Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 14th 2013 Contents Roslyn Carrington
"Each figure I create from my imagination,"
says artist Gabriella D'Abreau. "I imagine as
myself and so in each figure there is a piece of
She sees her art as being a bit different from
what most people expect from local artists, re-
lying on imagination rather than recreated ob-
served images. "My work takes a step out of
the world we exist in and presents alternate re-
alities; it's more stylized. I use bold and bright
colours, and acrylic paint is my favourite
medium." Much of her work focuses on the fe-
male form, using it as a metaphor.
Despite her relative newness on the art
scene, she has participated in multiple exhibi-
tions, locally as well as a few internationally.
Thus far, her greatest achievement was her
first solo exhibition, entitled Herstory, that ran
from September to October of last year. This
year, she took part in two more group exhibi-
tions, and in August will be presenting her third
group exhibition, entitled Eden, along with
Sarah Burrows and Reuben Gonzales. It opens
on Friday 2nd August at the Art Society of T&T,
and will run until the 11th of August.
It's daunting, though, to see low attendance
at many art exhibitions. "There is a perception
of visual art as something for 'high society'.
Most times at exhibitions you see the friends
and family of the artist, other artists and mem-
bers of creative fields. The general public rarely
Putting one's art out there is an invitation to
feedback, both negative and positive, but
D'Abreau takes it all in her stride. "Some people
find my work controversial, whilst others feel
deeply connected to it. I embrace the fact that
the perception of art is a personal taste and I
enjoy talking to people who have both positive
and negative reactions."
Art has always been a huge part of
D'Abreau's life. "I remember being very young
and taking any opportunity to sketch in my
copybook." Her love for creation continued in
secondary school, and on to higher education,
when, upon receiving an Open Scholarship, she
chose to further her studies in Art at St John's
University, NY. There, she received highest hon-
ours and a BFA in Illustration.
As is often the case, she held down a day job
while pursuing her early art career, but took her
fate in her hands earlier this year when she
struck off on her own. Surviving has required
hard work and flexibility. "Earning a living off of
art is extremely difficult to do locally. Most
artists who do so successfully are jacks of all
trades, extending themselves in many ways. I
am no different; besides doing work for gallery
exhibitions I also provide commission requests
and offer illustration and graphic art services to
individuals and businesses."
And while chasing down work is a matter of
survival, it's also important to hold on to your
artistic integrity. "The key is to find the balance
between pleasing the client and remaining true
to yourself, something not many can do."
Despite the difficulties, she is optimistic that
the livelihood of local artists will improve with
the proper changes to the education system to
include more culture and creativity in the cur-
riculum, to encourage new generations of
artists. More government support, and collabo-
ration among artists of different genres, would
also be a plus.
While D'Abreau doesn't feel that being fe-
male gives her any particular advantage as an
artist, it does colour her perspective. "I have a
powerful opportunity to speak to female con-
cerns and to celebrate womanhood."
She's also fortunate to have a solid support
system among friends and family. "There are a
lot of people who doubt you when you decide
to pursue visual art as a career, but there are
also a lot who will support you and help you
grow as an artist."
Having benefited from such mentoring, she's
happy to pass on what she's learned from her
experiences to other young artists. "Keep at it,"
she advises. "It will be a long road, and some-
times a lonely one, but if you love to create and
love what you do then persistence will get you
through all the tough times."
Woman Wise readers interested in seeing
more of her art can find Gabriella D'Abreau on
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt July 14, 2013
Photo Credit: Sean Powell
Earth and Water
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