Gabrielle Dobrzelewski (b.1999) is a painter and draughtsman based in Philadelphia, PA. Her work has been exhibited in Philadelphia and Delaware, and has been published in Create! Magazine and Divide Magazine.
Positioning herself as the primary subject, Dobrzelewski utilizes her likeness as the means to explore personal narratives and emotionally charged themes. She uses her domestic space as the theatre where the quiet dramas in her works are played out. In heightening the color feeling of her pieces, Dobrzelewski augments the emotional atmosphere of the image and aims to create a world in which the viewer can enter into and meditate upon.
"My body and the usage of light exists as both central subject and symbol in my work. Positioned in the intimate domestic space of my residence, the emotionally charged self-portraits I create serve as points of departure for exploring larger topics of interest – grief, desire, anxiety, death, spirituality, femininity, and dreams. Similar to the intimacy of the innerworkings of one’s psyche, utilizing my domestic space serves as the physical manifestation of my inner world. The narratives I engage in emerge from the well of my lived experiences. However, as I move through the process of creating a work external associations begin to reveal themselves to me - connecting Self to World. The pieces become a kind of cataloguing of my journey into myself as I experience life, while simultaneously acting as a means for me to become bigger than my own body and experience. The subjects of light and my likeness enter into the realm of the symbol, becoming an armature for a larger poetry and longing. The tension between specificity and to expand beyond that specificity goes expressed (but ultimately unresolved). I strive to actively live my questions. The questions and unresolvedness of it all is life giving – to have the questions resolve themselves would result in the need to create these images to cease
Tell us a little about yourself (where you are from) and your background in the arts.
I'm originally from the Midwest, but moved to Philadelphia to go to art school, and haven’t left since. I really love the community that exists here, and love how accessible museums and gallery spaces are now that I’m located on the east coast.
Growing up I was isolated from the art world - as a kid it was a dream of mine to be able to do what I’m doing now. Now I teach, and make work, and I'm surrounded by a wonderful community for creative folks I deeply admire, alongside having really amazing and supportive people in my life that I’m privileged to know.
What kind of work are you currently making?
Self portraits, images exploring color, and now I’m shifting more into multi-figure compositions. The stories and feelings that I make images about come first from lived experiences, and then as I paint them I find they tend to evolve into their own entity - both tied to but also moving away from the initial inspiration that made me want to create the piece. I never know what the result of each piece is going to be, but that’s half the fun of it I find.
What is a day like in the studio for you?
Generally speaking, an average studio day is comprised of me drinking coffee, listening to music, watching videos, or talking to a friend on the phone while working. With my paintings I tend to try and be as direct as I can when it comes to paint application, however due to the close form nature of my paintings I window shade.
The goal I set for myself is finishing a “window” (so like the hair, a stomach, the face, etc.) and just keep doing that until the piece is finished. And then move on to a new piece and start the process all over again.
What are you looking at right now and/or reading?
A few weeks ago I went to NYC and saw the Kahlil Gibran show at The Drawing Center in Soho. I thought the show was deeply moving, as Gibran’s writings and artwork hold an important place in my heart. I bought the catalogue and have been pouring over it ever since, captivated by the way his images have a sensitivity and tenderness to them that I find myself drawn to.
I’ve also been working my way through a book of selected works by Pablo Neruda as well. I find poetry in general informs my approach to image making, and also heavily informs the way I title my pieces - sometimes I even steal lines that I like and use that as a title for a piece.
Where can we find more of your work? (ex. website/insta/gallery/upcoming shows)
Website: You can find me online at https://www.gabrielledart.com/
Instagram: @gabrielled_art to keep up to date with my artwork and new