Milan-based illustrator Virginia Gabrielli describes herself as “obsessed with halftones – the nice ones, like those you can admire on a Morandi canvas or on flesh-coloured tattoos.”
Having studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts of Venice, Gabrielli went on to study at Istituto Superiore per le Industrie Artistiche (ISIA) in Urbino, where she fell in love with illustration and animation.
“My work born from the constant attempt to amalgamate my two main interests, art and illustration; giving the illustrations materiality usually absent in the digital world,” she says. “I like to wander between the abstract, the classical composition of still life and the portrait. Recently I enjoy drawing food, especially sweet delicacies.”
“When I draw an illustrated scene I prefer to draw a woman as a protagonist,” she adds, saying that it’s both easier for her to identify with, and that “the feminine world and its inner vision must be valued.”
Her illustration style is thoughtful and subtle, using muted tones and often placing a single character within the frame, with little ornament. Her work in still-life compositions or larger scenes tends towards touches of abstraction, and bolder colours and lines are used than in her figurative work.
A standout piece is Shape, an animation created as part of her thesis project that’s been selected to be screened in six different film festivals from across Europe and the United States.
It uses abstract, often geometric shapes that mutate between forms and primary colours to explore that big old question – what is art? “[Art’s] meanings are investigated through visual suggestions and interviews which try to unfold, at least partially, artistic practice,” says Gabrielli. Having some questions in mind (such as how do we make art today? Which are the contexts in which it’s blooming?
“Is everything art?), the goal of the animation is not to give a univocal and absolute answer, but rather to compare and mix ideas of artists and thinkers coming from different parts of the world.” Her aim, she says, is to help promote “a multitude of approaches and points of view,” in “an attempt for a collective voice.”
Gabrielli is a member of the artistic collective Fondazione Malutta, which comprises more than 50 artists aged between 20 and 35 years old working in various disciplines and hailing from countries including Albania, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Latvia and Kosovo. She is also a founding member of illustration magazine Pelo.