Gabriella Di XX Miglia|
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1967-1970 Accademia Ligustica di Belle Arti, Genoa, Italy.
1972-1973 Studies with Prof. Chiti Viardo, Genoa, Italy.
1974-1977 Accademia Ligustica di Belle Arti, Laboratorio di Restauro, Genoa, Italy.
1977 Degree in Painting Conservation. Genoa, Italy.
1999-2000 Classes & Workshops on PhotoManipulation, Silk Painting and Fiberart at "Wildfiber "
Santa Monica, California. Studies on Sculpture on Clay & Porcelaine at "The Clay House", Santa Monica, California.
2000___Jewelry Design & manufacturing.
2002-2003 Master Course in Fashion. The Fashion Institute of Fashion & Merchandising. Los Angeles, California.
Specialization in Fashion (Consultant, Styling, Designing) FIDM, Los Angeles, California. "Professional Makeup Artistry & Special Makeup Effects Joe Blasco Training Center", Hollywood, Ca December 2003 Specialization in Beauty Makeup and F/X for Print, Film, Television and Theatre.
GABRIELLA DI XX MIGLIA
"PAINTER WITH AN ANECDOTE"
Gabriella Di XX Miglia is one of the few painters who have been able to absorb the best of two cultures. Both the traditions of Europe and the freshness and candor of the New World elequently characterize her work.
The painter's personal history starts in Genoa, where she was born. Her family has some Piedmontese ancestry; however the painter has the frank character of a Ligurian. The late Nobel Prize winner Eugenio Montale, a Ligurian himself, cherished the early work of Gabriella. He used to say that from the very beginning she had entered the lineage of the "painter with an anecdote", among which he included even Brancusi. Apparently, in those years that tradition was opposed, and in fact was briefly overshadowed by the schools, which excluded from art any component, provided by the individual temperament. The anecdote in question refers to a story Gabriella tells with a smile. Her passion for painting started when, as a child, she received a box of colors during an illness. Playing with the colors she "forgot what was wrong": in the action of projecting a possible language she had found a therapeutic process that sped up her recovery. Under the smile of this handsome woman there is a determined unpredictability. What the anecdote tells us is that Gabriella had found not only a creative outlet but also a way of dealing with the world: in a most natural cycle, while exploring the events happening to her the artist was developing a sure talent and ability.
She studied painting at the Ligustica Academy of Fine Arts for three years, and spent another three years perfecting her training under Professor Chiti Viardo to whom the city of Genoa has dedicated an ample retrospective exhibit in 1987. Finally from 1974 to 1979 she obtained a specialization in restoration painting techniques. While most ephemeral fashions spread in waves throughout the world, she was pursuing her painting without entering any equipe instinctively following a nonconformist artistic destiny. Her first solo exhibit dates back to 1972, in that same year that she won the gold medal for the best drawing in a competition in Genoa. In 1975, in recognition for her work, she was included in the Bolaffi Catalogue, a national selection of Italian painters.
During these years, she supported herself with restoration work (mostly of paintings, both on canvas and wood) by opening a small individual studio in Nervi, near Genoa. A tall, blue-eyed, healthy youth, she supplemented her income by teaching gymnastic in a spa; practicing judo seemed to symbolize her strong defensive instinct, while water-skiing expressed in a physical methaphor her determination to cope with the free element, in a calculated stability.
A couple of solo shows in cities along "The Riviera Ligure" were successful. She was surprised to find that her paintings were selling easily. They were certainly not idillic, nor abstractively evasive. In this initial period she painted women with chiseled features on livid backgrounds. These figures are souls almost lost in the search for their conscience in a devastated atmosphere. The barren scene behind them does not resemble the Ligurian landscape: it is immediately evident that introspection is the spontaneous mode for this painter and the constant source for her representational themes. All feminine figures seem to carry a burden as if a heavy question mark was inscribed in each of their bodies. Gabriella would simply like to arrive at the inner perfection of her personality while reaching the pictorial perfection of her inspiration. The discipline that she demands of herself is striking. Painting is her fundamental goal in life, and yet she does not neglect to do other things. A dimension of absolute freedom and moral independence separates her from the crowd. We can find the spirit intact in her even today in this America and California that she loves so much and that she calls "home". In 1979 the name of Di XX Miglia appeared in the National Catalogue of Italian Modern Art.
When Gabriella moved to the United Stated, she got California fever. Talking about it today, the painter says that while moving has been an obstacle to her career, on a more personal level it has been a blessing. Looking back at the times when she used to paint on the hills of St. Ilario she feels like a lifetime has passed.
In 1983, in Los Angeles, Di XX Miglia opened her painting studio. Esther Robles, a pioneer in California modern art, organized a personal exhibit for her. Some of her paintings are on display in the collection of the Cedar-Sinai Medical Center and the UCLA Medical Plaza, both in Los Angeles as in other private collections around California. Her studio and her house are on a pleasant hill in a residential quarter of West Los Angeles. Vines, cypresses, olives and rosebuds liven up a garden decked with corbels and embankments. Here in the evening one can admire the incomparable spectacle of the California sky when it is alive with reflections of the sun setting into the ocean.
Even though the artist dearly loves her new world in California, she has maintained ties in her native Italy. She has revised the places of her childhood seeing them in a more knowing and mature light. She talks about her native Italy and her adopted country with equal enthusiasm. She understands the diversities of worlds that have their base in the common denominator of art. If you ask the painter what the future will bring she will answer that she would like to stay in the art world but without aggressiveness and without overdoing it. She would like to paint for herself and for those who are able to share her message.
In a series of paintings inspired by the adventure of another Genoese, Christopher Columbus, Di XX Miglia presents the world with a new facet of her abilities. The transatlantic enterprise, the very idea of "discovery" is interpreted by Gabriella as an explosion of happiness. This sort of pictorial excitement has not appeared in contemporary art after the impressionists. There is nothing of these masters in Gabriella, not even of Seurat and his sensitivity to water; but her intuition finds, in the vast theme of exploration and landfall a sense of well-being of the natural man and the experience of victorious encounters that the impressionists were the last to paint. These works open a chapter of emotions, introspection, and dramas. Gabriella knows how to revive her creative spirit and continue on the pictorial odyssey that never ends for a true artist. Artistic expression is a perennial, enchanted journey that always provided a poetic surprise. But her message is clear. She wants to push the people who see her work into an awareness of the introspective process that moved her to create the painting in the first place. This does not involve the simple transfer of an image but rather stimulation, the beginning of an inner journey that brings the observer, through the visual dialogue, to the discovery of himself. In the time when technology usurps the traditional rights of painters to represent reality through images, Di XX Miglia carves out a new role for herself and her medium. She is after the development, through the filter of reality, of an instrument and a stimulus for introspective analysis. An alliance, between the observer and the painter, that helps the comprehension of both parties.
The traditional Old World component in the painting of Di XX Miglia consists in her commitment to reach out in a search for harmony and beauty. Art for her is not a manipulation of the grotesque and of the absurd because art must identify a positive movement among the cultural abysses. Art's function is not to encourage the sheer pessimism in human existence: a surrender that has become so frequent in so many exhibits where any emotion, including desperation, replaces the protagonist. The art of this painter is more delicate and more connected with a deeper commitment to an interest in visual harmony and beauty. She respects the discoveries of the past that have met the challenge of time and the changing of values.
"I remember", says Di XX Miglia, " that when I went to Madrid and I was in front of a Portrait of Maria de Medici by Rubens: I thought, I could paint like this. And it does not matter that the portrait represents a person that looks or dresses in a certain way. On the contrary, it is the painting itself that is marvelous, whether or not it is a good likeness, and whether or not it is finished. The artist display of talent is enormous and that is what I am after."
There is an inherent force and determination in this declaration that seems inspired by the saying of Cesanne: " In painting, I owe you the truth and that is what I will give you."
The painter's nudes are proof of the attitude that appearance and form are less important that the symbolic clarity of the message. Her nudes are an invitation to the reflection that combines a search for the meaning of human existence, the exploration of the erotic and the evaluation of all diversity. But the primary pictorial components of the nudes are a game of colors, a passage of lights, a synthesis of forms in movement and a projection of her own image. The obsessive theme in these figures is the meeting of the spiritual and the material in the quest for a balanced integration. The goal is an expression of perfection based on an easily perceptible harmony that is without pretense.
After an initial "naturalistic" phase, which will find its place in Liguria postwar art, Di XX Miglia has gone through a period of formal searching in the use of materials, the delineation of objects, and the interrelation between landscapes and bodies. From a searching of larger compositional structures, the artist has passed to a treatment of elements as symbols and in this sense she has assimilated some of the more strident parameters of Surrealism. Still, her greatest works are supported by an innate pictorial intuition that brings her directly to visual components and motifs as they appear in dreams.
This is her way of searching a study of physiognomy. By her own assertion, she is an artist with few outside influences. This makes it difficult for the observes to reduce her influences to casual references. She makes the image coincide immediately with the substance of her simplest feelings, for instance towards expressing the desire or perhaps the anxiety to find security in life. She favors interpretations that can be enjoyed in all their variety. Sometimes, it seems that her message comes from far away and it is useless to attempt to establish clear ties and points of references in deciding what is pertinent and what is remote. So an observer is brought back to the visual limit and to the essential attitude by simply looking at the work. Because for Di XX Miglia, painting is never an occasional activity but always a mirror, an emblem, an archetype, the correlative aim of her true being. Ultimately she is not only a painter but also an interpreter.
Isadore Ducasse, the Count of Lautreamont, once said, "If you are unhappy, do not pass it on, reserve it for yourselves". For Di XX Miglia painting is never unhappiness. On the contrary it is a conscious evolution of fertile and positive proposals. Sometimes, she passes on archetypal images, and other times she personifies a dramatic confrontation. Through form and color she awakes a direct sense of creation in seeking modes of composition; she selected the gesture, which turns toward a message from the unconscious world into the exciting reality of the depiction. She chose a basically narrative language for the composition of her series "Colombo". In other words she seems to hold back the representation in order to have it undergo a moment of deeper contemplation. The meeting between these two moments gives rise to the contrast between work and the public's perception. A vital meeting that is at the basis of the representation.
Continuing in this brief excursus it is convenient to go through an imaginary history of the various stages of her career, in order to better penetrate the world of the painter.
That spirit that has animated this artist's inspiration and has pushed to express itself appears clearly enough by means of the pictorial components she has found constant: colors, forms and compositions. Her self-portrait will serve as a good introduction even if chronologically it is one of her relatively recent work. While in her very early works the painter gives signs of exploring an inner turmoil, in this beautiful portrait she is able to reveal a satisfied sense of mature tranquillity in contrast with her physical youth. By her own assertion it is an image of a "happy woman" undertaken by an adult hand. It is a portrait of a woman and an artist who has completed the fascinating journey of self-exploration and has reached awareness after trolling through the labyrinths of the unexpressed. The composition opens on to a deep formless background. It is an open knowledge without conclusion. The subject's expression, inversely, creates a forward set of lines, as if harboring a foreboding intention in search of further innovations.
The double portrait of the painter with her late husband may be her best work of all in spite of the imaginative, unusual, and even bizarre back of back framing. The enigmatic physiognomy in her and the thoughtful and knowledgeable portrait of him are pictorial experiences, which the artist accurately elaborates without any artifices. The painter has seemingly raised the veil of "Maia" catching a profound aspect of human essence. She has been able to destroy the danger of descriptiveness and reaffirm the supremacy of the meaning of image.
The portrait of a beautiful blond lady with a serene countenance is the artist's mother.
Under the guise of a testimony to an affectionate examination with familiar affinities, it is another intimate study of feelings. It is clear that Gabriella has wanted to test the manner of classical portrait artists in as much as they substituted the image with a personal interpretation of the subject. The subject's expression relates directly to the painter and clings to something that is important in her personal life while her thoughts wander.
It is not by chance that feminine figures abound in the paintings of Di XX Miglia. Women are the carries of an enigma and of a unliberated power. Even in the portrait of her mother, the painter puts the "intimate" above the visible and the form does not suffer. It is rare to find such authenticity in purpose and skill in expression when an artist goes after something more meaningful than any sensational effect.
In the portrait of a young girl the ambiguity of the expression centers in the eyes, (one slightly different from the other). This effect portrays a feeling of inauspicious premonition. The uncertain, almost unintelligible smile seems to say farewell: in fact that girl will voluntary bid farewell to life before too long. With this vibrant and psychologically pithy subject the artist has endeavored to make the image catalyze the innermost feelings of confusion. It is into a composition of outward traits that coincide with the substance of her feelings.
In another work, the painter portrays herself as a nude under the sun on a dreaming background. This work was completed during a trouble period in her life. The commotion of an overbearing reality is unleashed on her inner-conscience contrasting violently with the physical tranquillity of the body, the space, and the light. The conceptual working of the piece bears an anxiety like a sudden change in the unconscious state. But it is not whimsical or far-fetched. The human situation is resolved in purely visual terms. The source of this outpouring is an instinctual drive that goes back to roots deep in pre-historic Mediterranean cultural and physical climates.
The image rises out from its slumber almost like an evolutionary process. The vacillation between precision and vagueness, dark and light tones determines the formation of a dialogue that invites and involves the spectator in spite of himself. Even the interaction of colors heightens the dialogue.
In the work entitled "Manhattan" the painting predominates as if form and color were combined to prophesy or divine, a secret that is concentrated in a sole figure. The painter, attentive to the structural intricacies involved in living up to a title like "Manhattan" has looked for the evidence of set of primary relationships. Her solution in this thematic problem is strictly figurative, a true understanding of pictorial invention. The whole triptych composition emblematically alludes to a means of introspection that leads to the discovery of a meaning for artistic existence, and the degrees of responsibility before art. The work is divided into three sections. Your eye moves from one vertical landscape to another. The cold that one guesses to be from the exterior contrasts with the warmth from the nude bystander subsume in sensual terms the metaphysical contrasts that subdivide and separate the painting. To understand oneself through dreams externalizes experience. The aspiration to penetrate imaginary worlds resides in such vision. The result is remarkable and surprising. The pleasant tone of the painting expands itself without misrepresenting its physical characteristics. The painting develops a simple and disturbing inquiry into the human condition and on the value of life itself. It is another example of the contradictory reality of the female universe.
On the back of the woman with landscape, the "Mother Earth" who gives birth, the "Earth" seems to actually flow from the human figure as she were in a very intense labor. This painting is a study of the terrestrial roots with references to deeply felt sensory and conscious experiences. It offers an oscillation between two poles, the state of becoming and the state of being. While in the "Manhattan" triptych the leading mode is lyrical, in the "Mother Earth" an epic breath moves the inspiration. Nature originates from an interior magma that colors the backdrop of the picture, which is in fact, the reverse foreground with anxious tones. The terrifying density of the colors is not only made of external factors but also indexes of a taut interiority. The suggestion of giving birth, again is a function of feelings in a painting. The expression of this subject matter trusts itself to formal devices: the head held to one side, the arm that rises to hold back the hair. There is not need to resort to psychological terminology, aestheticism or rhetoric. In the calculated slowness of the movement one can guess the meaning of every gesture.
One painting could be called "A Lady Tourist's Mexican Memory". Here the unchanged and unchangeable reality of the inner self is revisited by an external element, foreign to that type of culture. In the red of the car parked "outside" there is reality, not found in the magic myth that the "tourist" has unknowingly crossed into. This is expressed with a high sense of chromatic understanding. In her desire to have the physiognomy agree with the inanimated forms, the artist achieves here a considerable degree of maturity in the narration of a story. The composition coordinates a reality that does not exclude relations with the natural malleable and photographic view of any subtle analogical reason. In this work the intimate being of the artist, expands in all of her unresolved doubts, carried out mysteriously by the chain of events of life toward the beauty of the unknown. Illusion and reality of the vision dominate perspection as a metaphor, not as a narrative, for the artist's condition.
In the beautiful rural landscape that a small group of people admires from a belvedere metaphor and narrative are blended. The meditation between the human figures and the countryside before them is essentially resolved with breath of vision and by means of homogenous rythyms. Every element incorporates a meaning that instills a vast resonance. Skilled tonality treatment preserves physical immediacy. The fusion between colors, light, and forms, offers itself in quiet symbiosis and calls to the wits of the audience for interpretation. In this image, space is attracted in a poetically valid construction.
In one painting Di XX Miglia portrays three pathetic "Pierrots " and an imaginatively flowered character that stands out on the backdrop of what she calls the "Hollywood Bowl". She combines the tension between the abstract and the figurative in the joining of many expressive possibilities. Methaphor and narrative are strongly symbolized but what counts above all is the treatment of colors. In 1965 Gonthier's publication entitled " Fonctions de la peinture" Fernand Leger wrote in the chapter "Coleur dans le monde": that "color is a vital element. The indispensable primary material of life, just like fire and water."
Without a colored background Gabriella cannot conceive man's existence. As Leger wrote, "Plants and animals are naturally colored, but man dresses and undresses himself. His action is not decorative, it is significant". For Gabriella too, the light of day intensifies, "becoming a social and human need".
In one series of oils, "The four Seasons", an elderly figure, contemplates different landscapes from the sideline of the picture. The landscapes are charged with the idea of the passing of time, an equal rhythm anywhere: is it on a Polynesian beach, a country village or even a zoo. The true "leitmotiv", might be an uncommon interpretation of time; as if the artist has lived the pictorial experience as a process of radical and self-conscious liberation.
In one work an uprooted tree on the side of a road symbolizes the broken life of a man who is full of hope because he is still alive. Therefore it is not at all a pessimistic reflection without hope: the coming of time rather that its passing.
A favorite landscape is the beaches of St. Tropez where the painter loves to spend a few weeks each summer. Description and color become the material components of the image, be it a tree, a house, or a human figure. She concedes that this relaxed series of paintings mainly represents a free searching of compositional elements from the casualness of nature into the "selectivity" of art.
In the initial phase the artist refused to paint flowers because it seemed like a constrained and rapidly exhausted theme. Today she does paint flowers but she "animates" them by establishing imaginative and significant relations. She looks for well-studied compositions in which the accurate choice of the subject does not neglect her enjoyment in the development of interpretation. These works spotlight a thoughtful talent that is evident in the care put even into choosing the vases that house the flowers. If the nature of a flower is characterized by its perfume rather than by form and color, the artist strives to create around the flower a chromatically vibrant space that does not have only compositional value but has a refined expressive function in evoking the "unpaintable" component of the subject's scent.
Gabriella's vocation finds a voice in a series of paintings on wood-mounted canvas with clay frames. It represents a magic triad. The one entitled "Fraternity" stands out. Here the dark, dreamy tones fully reveal another milestone in the road to self-discovery. The fixity of the stares carves out ghostly faces in a manner that Gabriella could have observed in the masks of Giacometti.
Another series is similar, but here the portraits widen to include human faces of different ethnic groups. These countenances are inscribed in a red circle, which suggests an almost magical positioning. The message is a refiguration of a metaphysical encounter of all human ethnic groups. The challenge of time and timelessness is also dealt with in luminous tonalities in the seductive series "Fiori dello Zodiaco" (Twelve Months of Flowers). In this coherent twelve-piece work, the painter's metaphysical instinct and psychological penetration are supported by a studied enjoyment of figurative details. The result is a secure manipulation of colors, a classic abundance of gradations, and an inventive, strong and delicate rhythmic structure.
One of the themes that most attracted our painter is the adventure of Columbus and his Discovery of the New World. She has worked on an entire set of imaginary portraits and sketches. She finds a true synthesis in the theme. The faces erupt from the background as if they were charging up into the sky. They expressions are mounded by the action of the enterprise and by the way their feats are imagined and envisioned. They are not merely words, glances, and reflections. Every individual body strives to create a common body, all part of the New World experience.
If one asks the painter, why Columbus? She answers, "because I am also from Genoa. I know his turf and I can well understand the feelings, the anxieties, and the anguish that spring up in that corner of the world. I also admire the sheer courage of this amazing man". Columbus, an exceptional son of his native land, his time, and again depicted on a background of oceanic skies. The variations in his face express a wide range of sentiments and passions: faith and uncertainty, premonitions of triumph, desire, extravagance, the attraction of the unknown, and the inspiration of youthful beauty.
As an artist and as a woman who is sensitive to outward forms , she intends to express the spell of this grand figure from the past. His genius, imagination, foresight and great physical endowments made Columbus the master of the Ocean, the initiator of the modern age of navigation in the open seas. Gabriella paints him in the act of breaking out of a multi-colored, solid sky. He possessed unheard of talent as an expert on the sea. He could foresee hurricanes, guess the obstacles due to coral reefs. As the inventor of a new age, he demonstrated the existence of a new concept, denied by all previous civilizations: Greco-Roman and Christian, Asiatic, and Islamic.
Gabriella condenses all this in the intensity of the forward look in his eyes. In the contemporary world, Columbus is still the symbol of daring, the stubborn belief in oneself. In a way these are also talents that are part of the make-up of any artist. But here the woman's sheer admiration explains some of the impulse to pick up a brush and transfer her emotions into canvas. Of course her Columbus representations are imaginary as no original portraits of the man survive. The many likenesses are each different from the other and in general the iconography merely coincides with the few facts we know about the navigator's physical appearance. Di XX Miglia presents a young Columbus with white hair, historically accurate because we know that his reddish-blond hair had turned silver by the age of thirty; but his poses visualize inner interpretations. She imagines him on land, lost in thought while he conceives a plan, which is primary intellectual; to contradict the dogma that the antipodes are uninhabitable. Or on a bridge of his ship, his eyes are full of determination and are stronger than the hidden danger of the sea before him. The surge of power in those eyes seems to absorb distance. On his cheek the painter marks the touch of the trade winds that are leading him to find the east by going west, "a buscar el Levante por el Ponente." In the wake of Columbus' American adventure she expands into a constellation of other portraits. Armorers, politicians, mercenaries and popes, crowd a historical fresco of evocative effectiveness. Di XX Miglia's choice of such a theme is remarkable; it is not just an affectionate homage to her native land and at the same time to her adoptive one. It is an occasion to give figurative reality to the experience which has been a determinant in her own life; the tying together of two worlds, and to the experience which is the principle of any artistic endeavor, discovering.
ign & manufacturingWhen I see a color or a form that is interesting to me, I keep it in my eyes.
When I hear a music, a sound that makes me deeply emotional, I keep it in my ears.
When I smell a scent, a perfume that inebriates me, I keep it in my nose.
When I feel a sensation that touches my heart I keep it in my soul.
When I fear, I love, I laugh, I weep for what I see, I touch, I hear, I smell,
I feel... I put all these emotional fervors in an ecstatic intimacy with my feelings until I paint as a release of all my visions and sensations.
1972 First solo exhibit in Europe: La Piccola Gallery,
Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy.
1983 First solo exhibit in U.S.A.: Esther Robles Gallery,
Los Angeles, California.
1985 Slide show with commentary, City Art Museum,
Pistoia (Florence), Italy
1986 UCLA the Faculty Center, California.
1993 Group show "What Women Got To Do With It", S.C.L.A.,
1990-2003 Group shows, Gallery 825, West Hollywood,
1998-June." World Contemporary Art", Los Angeles Convention
1998 Group show "California Salon d'Automne" La Galerie
Internationale, Palo Alto, California.
1999-April. Group shows "Art Contemporain-International
Artists" Galerie Everarts, Paris, France.
1999-May. "World Contemporary Art", Celebrity Center
International, Hollywood, California.
1999-October. Lawrence Gallery, Beverly Hills, California.
1999-December. "Splendor in Silk", Thousand Oaks Com.
Gallery, Newbury Park, California.
2000-July Galerie Everarts, Paris, France.
2001-April National Art Association, "April in Paris" gala.
Los Angeles, Ca. Donation for Art Auction.
2001-April American Heart Association, "Heart Ball".
Los Angeles, Ca. Donation for Art Auction.
2001-October Open Studio Show for Art Collector Tour of
Art consultant Mumsy Nemiroff.
2001-November Fall Art Festival, Long Beach, Ca.
2001-December Association for Women in Architecture
Foundation. Donation for Live Auction, Pasadena, Ca.
Represented by: Gallery 825, West Hollywood. Ca.