Golden Abstraction

Updated: Jan 11, 2019

~Michelle Saleeba


It's been an absolute delight to link in with the talented Italian born, Perth artist Francesca Gnagnarella for this post. Francesca who supports a number of Perth charities, has a close family connection to our 2018 beneficiary Tiny Sparks WA. Francesca's energy and playful exuberance shines through in her art. Combined with an exceptional eye for colour and design, and choosing to emotionally anchor her work to the places she creates in, it's no wonder she has achieved such success.


Has creativity or making art helped you with any important life transitions you have experienced?

I was born and raised a city girl, but since I moved to Australia I discovered a love of this sunburnt country. So after arriving from Italy I developed a new style in my artworks that has been inspired by my new surroundings, transitioning into what it has become my signature style of works. I started using the power of the visual image of the Western Australian landscape in combination with its scale and textures to explore a new place, land and culture.

Describe how you came to start making art?

I studied art in Rome first and then finished my studies at Paris' Sorbonne University…a true European creature! I’ve held my first solo exhibition in Rome in 2006 prior to finishing my degree. I’ve always been very creative, my best friend and I used to run our creative workshop in her family’s garage since we were in primary school! I remember her dad was so supportive of our creative talents that as a bit of a joke he once told me to sign the wall, for when I would become famous! I was probably 10 at the time but still think that was so sweet of him!

Many artists describe an apprehension with sharing their work. Did you feel anything like this when you first started to exhibit/share your art?

Getting my works and my name out there amongst a million other super talented creative was obviously challenging at the beginning. It’s easy to get down seeing how much amazing competition there is out but it’s essential to have constant passion and determination to prove to the world you are worth getting noticed! If I had one advise to give to someone just starting it would be to be ready to dedicate yourself to it 110% and never forget why you started! It’s the only way to get there, lots and lots of dedication!


How would you describe your current work?

I call my works ‘emotional landscapes’: they capture fleeting moments of memory with a vision that is emotional and intuitive, remembering a sunrise, looking at the earth and the sky in the sunshine or after rain; recalling the oranges, ochres and soft greys of a sunburnt desert; the clearest azure waters, the softest sand, the brightest sunsets.

I enjoy portraying the landscape in an inspiring manner to give a sense of uplifting familiarity, trying to capture the essence of a place, rather then reproducing it from photograph, through an exaggeration of colours, forms, and texture.

Can you describe your artistic process?

I wake up very early to take a walk with my puppy along the river, I adore starting the day this way, it puts in such a great mood and I constantly get inspired by the riverside colours and landscape.

After my morning coffee, I go to the studio where I generally prefer to paint in the morning; in the afternoon I usually tend to do less creative work or deliveries to clients.

Do you have a dedicated studio or favoured painting location?

Yes, my studio in located in Fremantle inside a beautiful old warehouse style building. It houses about 30 artists studios and it is now also used as a contemporary art space that presents curated art exhibitions of local and international artists.

What is one creative resource you can’t live without?

Going for a walk along the river or the beach to refuel on creative inspiration and my much-adored precious little gold leaf!

How does your life experience and emotional state feed into your art?

I am fortunate enough to live close to the ocean and usually I start my day walking my puppy on the river shores surrounding my home. On my walks I can slow down, observe my environment, take in colours, patterns, textures, and, most importantly, the light, which has a particularly vibrant quality here in Perth and is represented throughout my works with the use of 23 karat gold leaf, which has become my signature style.

In terms of artistic influences, I of course always had my favourites when studying art at school. Definitely the artist I have always looked at for inspiration is the American painter Rothko, I love his use of colour and large scale works.


What strategies do you employ to help yourself when you feel creative stuckness?

I usually work on more than one piece at the time, so that really helps me when I get ‘stuck’ on one but continue painting on other canvases. Sometimes it’s just a mood, or the right moment that strikes the inspiration to use particular colour palettes instead of others so I can keep going. At times, I might have a particular piece in my studio for months before I know how to proceed with the next step of creation or to know when a piece is finished.

How do you define Creativity?

One of my favourite life motto is 'If you don't try you'll never know if you can make it!' and I guess the thing I'm most proud of myself is having had no fears to move to a country I've never been before and with no one I knew from Italy and achieving everything I've done to get to where I am today. There’s nothing that excites more than being able to showcase my creativity and to translate into canvas and seeing clients fall in love with my works and seeing my paintings hanging into their new forever homes.

Francesca is one of only 12 Australian artists chosen to exhibit as part of the upcoming Asia Contemporary Art Fair

You can see more of her work at her website on Facebook or Instagram.

Tickets to Army Art 2018 Opening Night are available now via Sticky Tickets.

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