I make paintings because I can't think of anything else to do.
"Aesthetics is for the artist as ornithology is for the birds,"
said Barnett Newman, and I agree.
Stories are much better:
I remember once walking through Harvard Yard with Sydney Freedberg, a renowned art historian, speaking to him about a paper I was trying to write for his course, "Painting in Rome in the 18th Century". We were very fine in those days! As we approached the door of the Fogg Museum, I asked him, as an older man to a younger, what advice he would give me if I told him I wanted to be a painter.
He said, "Don't do it, unless you have something very important to say." And with that he turned to go in, but stopped with his hand on the door handle, turned his venerable head towards me and asked, "By the way, what is your name?"
I said, "Gabrielli".
He said, "Yes, do it!"
He turned and disappeared into the Fogg.
I once asked the head of the Department of Fine Arts at Harvard if I could do an independent study in Painting with a willing faculty member. There were no studio courses. He explained to me, "The Reverend Board of Overseers does not consider painting to be the occupation of a gentleman."(!)
They were, of course, correct.
Gabrielli paints with the skill seen in in the work of the old masters and the insight found in the most provoking of contemporary artists. In his paintings, he pays homage to art history, acknowledging the process of studying traditional masterpieces as a contemporary painter.
In many of Gabrielli's paintings, he represents works of other artists within his own still life.This other work of art thus becomes an object in his painting and therefore intereacts with the other elements in that painting, creating an active dialogue between the concepts of art, the elements that make up a work of art and the work of art as an object. His use of humor and wit is also apparent in the inclusion of odd juxtapositions, such as an apple on the shelf echoing the round forms of a nude in the "painting within the painting" that hangs on the wall of the piece. Thus, the "actual" objects in the still life seem to react to or comment on the work of art represented in the painting, sometimes in surprising ways.
In all of his work, Gabrielli marshals a precise yet subtle control which is absolutely necessary for such realism to succeed. The images seem to have been poured onto the linen in one motion; his use of rich color and powerful shadow seem at once both fantastically poetic and true to life. In this way, Gabrielli's paintings also reflect classical masterpieces by incorporating the discipline, technique and invention necessary to create great works of art, regardless of the content.
Gabrielli earned a BA in Art History at Harvard, an MFA in Painting at the Boston Museum School and spent years studying and working in Italy, principally in Rome, Siena and Verona. He has shown his work in galleries in Boston, New York, Boca Raton and SanFrancisco. He currently lives and works in an old, remodelled hay barn in the Catskills of New York. He returns to Italy often, or as often as he can work up the courage to face the exchange rate.