Gabriella Marazzi: "Life in a graphite sign"


Multifaceted artist, unconventional  writer and painter:  Gabriella Marazzi ,  from Modena  , has established herself in the Italian cultural scene thanks to her oil paintings on canvas and her  incisive graphite  strokes  on cardboard  that represent  , especially, the multiple and changing female moods ; as well as  those of the  celebrities, as witnessed by the success of the catalog   “Life in a graphite sign”  which was recently published.


During her youth  she  attended  the “Venturi  Art Institute ” in Modena. It is here where Gabriella’s artistic career  took off.  Her natural talent, the technical knowledge gained at the academy, her fresh creativity,  belonging  to a well-known aristocratic  family (the Termanini), some resourcefulness , a good dose of determination and innate  dowry to communicate help her in the first moments of her career.

James, il gigante Tecnica mista su cartoncino 100x70 cm 2006

Her works that  make her being noticed  are surrealist. Following the lessons of Max Ernst, Otto Dix, René Magritte, Francis Bacon and other  artists who want to “rid the world of art by the so-called conscious faculties,” Gabriella starts from a solid figurative knowledge to free her imagination:  born the first “ Female figures “, initialed  ” Giti “and then ” TIGI “, created with very black graphite on large white cards, and gigantic oil paintings on canvas, with tormented subjects built on uniform bottoms. The 1968 protest  movement   preaches “Give youth” and “Imagination to power.”  Gabriella is perfectly suited to both slogans. Very young and creative, she is able to manage  the demands of a relationship, the needs of young children, the etiquette and customs of a marriage with Pier Giorgio Marazzi and  she gets  the strength and energy  to avoid a premature conclusion of an artistic career that still has to be built, becoming  the mistress of  few  hours of her day, those in the evening and night that continue  nowadays  to see her at work.

Marcello, lo stranieroTecnica mista su cartoncino70x50 cm2005

Among sacrifices and hard work, despite the pressures of a young family and the environment, she completes  a large number of works. at the “Real Fini” in Modena  with a catalog of Leonelli. The exhibition has a huge success and is an opportunity for Gabriella for two extraordinary meetings. The first  one is with the legendary Enzo Ferrari, the Drake, intrigued by a work seen in the catalog, titled “Solitude”, and eager to see it close: ” He is tall, solemn, his face protected by  black eyeglasses and his hair as white as the snow ” the king of racing cars comments:  ” Looking at this picture it’s like suddenly having back my  appetite, the desire to travel! … this woman bleeds sensuality, mystery, understanding … an immoral paradox but terribly sincere … ” . The second important meeting is with the famous critic Francesco Arcangeli, to whom Gabriella gives one of her  large canvases in oil, receiving high praise. After several months of work, Gabriella, in March of 1974, is ready for a new confrontation with critics and audiences. The gallery is in Milan, on via San Marco, and the catalog boasts the prestigious presentation of Raffaele De Grada, who about the ” Female figures” writes: “The designs of   Marazzi   are unconventional, pathetic. She does not care feminine grace, nor all the attributes that belong to the kindness of a woman who lives in a normal environment of the Italian province. The female figures that   Marazzi   designs are seen from a moving train, raising their clothes with the airflow that it causes. They are not mothers or tired workers returning home in the evening . Each of these women has her own  drama, has something that weighs upon them … “

Un attimo prima del cuoreTecnica mista su cartoncino70x50 cm1996

More  exhibitions (in Dusseldorf,  in Milan again, in Udine, in San Severo, in Pugnochiuso, at the “Cheval de Verre” gallery in Brussels ), more  compliments , the meeting with Maurice Henry and his valuable advices, everything seems to go for the best   for  Gabriella  Marazzi, the painter.  But  Gabriella  Marazzi , the woman ,  is in serious troubles. Her marriage goes into crisis, it becomes impossible to live in Modena with the influences  that  a very well-known  family  imposes her. And when she has already chosen a freer existence, far from her city, the death  of “doctor”  Marazzi, the head of the family dynasty, and  her husband Pier Giorgio are the watershed for new experiences. In the eighties,  Gabriella leaves Modena  and continues her artistic career in Milan and is here where she meets the “poet” of Italian music, Giulio Mogol, and begins with him a life together that will last ten years, crowned by the birth of Francesco.  A new life that influences the artist’s activity.  First of all , she  quits the  oil painting, too demanding and too tiring because of the gigantic dimensions of the paintings. Then progressively she also abandons the “Female figures” keeping  or  even better  , improving  , the graphite pencil technique. Women remain one of her  favorite subjects, but now  these women acquire corporeality, and are depicted  in three dimensions . Alongside characters often famous, masters of thought, actors and actresses, affecting Gabriella’s  heart and imagination , suggesting her  to explore in the “folds of the faces and the time” the signs of their life, the traces of their suffering. As written by Domenico Montalto, “her portrait gallery – now known faces now unknown – is the pool of Narcissus, or rather the burning glass, corrosive, of a demented humanity , besieged by the vacuum.”  Vittorio Sgarbi  points out in an interview with Roberto Armenia, that the painter “apparently stops the image, but she works in it to look for something that is under the skin.” And all this through the quality of design, which, closely observed, allows  constant discoveries in the presence of meticulous details.

Metamorfosi interrottaTecnica mista su cartoncino70x50 cm2006

From the second half of the nineties  Gabriella, once again left alone, is obliged to bring together her creative force, the necessity to speak with her pencils which are now more and more colorful, with dramatic personal stories (especially the death of her son Pietro , who was born in her first marriage, but also the crisis of her relationship with Mogol). But amazingly she manages to find a new way to express herself through writing and the publication of two books. An activity that joins the laborious organization of new exhibitions, in Piacenza, in Rome , at Palazzo Tittoni Traverso Desio. Comes  the millennium. Artistically, Gabriella tries new roads, with extensive use of color, and above all, an intensive search for details and inventions that enrich what at first glance may appear a simple figurative research, photographic art on the trail. In artistic creation, through the writing of a new book and intense painting activity (2006 will be particularly prolific of works) Gabriella once again finds the sap to pursue her  life experience.  Indeed , she seeks new ways even more challenging, up to  the recent series of “Dolls”, large colorful paintings dedicated to female faces. “The Artist” – is still Vittorio Sgarbi who suggests  it – “represents an alienated identity, of which the memory of photography is the instrument to ensure credibility. The illusion is at first sight, only later you notice the patient and vibrant preparation “. Succeeding in the  balance between photography and painting is the bet “ won”  by Gabriella   Marazzi, who, waiting for new achievements  in her  artistic career, can say to those who ask about her work: “The bitter irony, anger, aggression that may seem only contempt and irreverent challenge, in my paintings hide indeed an infinite love for life “.

NudanataTecnica mista su cartoncino70x50 cm1993

Last year has seen  Gabriella starring many significant initiatives, focusing on creativity and good taste. At the beginning of 2016 she organized a tour that touched the most   important cities in the world, where she exhibited  her  famous portraits of important personalities of the twentieth century   honored on canvas and cardboard: among others, John Lennon, Charles Bukowsky, Marcello Mastroianni, Herbert Marcuse, Marlene Dietrich, Marilyn Monroe.  And again:   Barack Obama   (portrait that has entranced her friend George Cl ooney)   Prince Charles of Wales,   Peter Falk  , Linda Evangelista, Isabella Rossellini and many other well-known personalities on the international stage. Last October, however, the artist has opened her “personal exhibition” at the Gallery of Ptolemy on Via Ampere in Milan. The exhibition called  “I, Gabriella,” which now is preparing to be presented in other cities, boasts the prestigious care of  Pierpaolo Mangani, critic and art historian and Head of the Municipal Gallery of Castiglione Fiorentino and Arezzo.


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