THE MODERN DAY SUBLIME


Gabrielle Dalsan

Gabrielle is a musician and painter based in South London. Her artwork ranges from large scale oil portraiture to intimate life drawing sketches and Turner-esque landscape pieces.

Gabrielle uses her art to capture the simple, intimate and emotional aspects of everyday life. From an early age, she had an interest in sketching and considers herself a self-taught artist as her passion began organically as a past-time hobby.


A modern-day wanderer

‘My piece is an A3 monochrome oil painting of a woman standing alone in front of a vast, barren landscape. The photograph was taken by James George Potter, a fellow collaborator. The ground beneath her is quite abstracted as the mixture of dry earth and puddles creates an almost sea scape, depending on whichever way you look at it. In ways, the composition reminds me of the famous painting by Caspar David Friedrich entitled ‘The Wanderer above the Sea of Fog’. It harks back to the use of sublime and romanticism. Potter captured a modern-day wanderer, lost in the landscape around her. Usually as a portrait artist, I would crop the image so that it was more tightly framed around her. However, I felt that painting a large landscape really emphasised her loneliness and isolation.

My first layer of paint was quite expressive in ways. Although I painted on a small scale, I still wanted to incorporate sporadic and unpredictable brush strokes. I think this was necessary to create an interesting dynamic in the piece. After that initial layer, I combined a mixture of stronger, sharper lines to add definition and looser edges to add fluidity. I avoided any in-depth detailing as in my opinion, isolation is often bland and lacklustre for people. Usually in my paintings I like to create a contrast between the lights and darks, using highlights for drama. However, for this piece I aimed to keep the ashy, dusty effect of the sky. The greys were muted and highlights were limited. 

For a spin, I painted in some subtle astronomy in reference to Sal Moreno and kept it simple to avoid ‘over-doing’ it, as my mum would say. The meaning behind painting the stars was that we as humans are not the only living thing in the universe, we are not in complete isolation, no matter how strong the feeling is at times. We must not become too self-absorbed and we should use this time of isolation to reflect on how we treat the landscapes around us. For me this painting wasn’t just about a woman standing alone in the middle of nowhere, it was about how even if we feel isolated, we are never completely and truly isolated.’


Devising and Collaboration

Initial ideas

‘My initial ideas were to keep it simple. I think when dealing with isolation, it can be effective to come up with a composition that captures both the tranquillity and sadness of loneliness. Isolation can bring out the wonderful creative sides to people, yet can be a detriment to our mental health, as we as human being yearn for human connection and touch. I thought of capturing a moment of peace in amongst a scene of chaos. This was something I had touched on in school but never fully developed. This would involve having a couple having a moment of quietness in amongst a loud room, for example.

However, in the current Coronavirus landscape, I knew this wouldn’t be a safe idea. I then came up with the idea of painting a figure situated in the corner of a large barren room, using lighting and colour to emphasise the coldness of isolation. It was during this time that collaborator James George Potter displayed to myself and Sal Moreno his photography based on the theme. The images were very similar in style to what I had envisioned and so I took the opportunity to paint his photography. Sal Moreno suggested incorporating Augmented reality into the pieces. He himself used Space as an inspiration which later on appeared in my painting

Working with Sal and James:

I absolutely loved working with Sal and James. I felt that myself and James had quite similar styles and Sal helped me to see with a more technology influenced eye. I loved James’s compositions and the black and white palette really tested my oil painting skills. Usually I work in colour, so painting with just two tones was quite the challenge, but a good one at that.

Both artists were incredibly open minded and ready to try anything put forward which made such a calming environment. In a world without a pandemic, I would’ve loved to of shared work with them in person but hopefully that can happen in the future!  Sal influenced me to think outside the box. Although my final piece is simple, the thought process of getting there took some planning and thorough thinking. He taught me to think about what exists beyond our atmosphere, and how that can impact us as small individual beings.

James captured the vastness of an environment so well. His photography instantly made me feel isolated, or like I was viewing a lonely person. He harnessed the theme so strongly in his work which only inspired me to go further.’


Collaborators

To explore other works from this collaboration group, click on the images below. To return to the main exhibition page, click on The Collaborator’s Project banner.

EXISTENCE, James George Potter
(Photography)

COSMIC ESCAPE, Sal Moreno
(Virtual reality and digital art)


Discover more from Gabrielle

Read more about Gabrielle below and follow @gabrielledalsan_art on Instagram to discover more of her work. 

Artist Bio

‘My artistic journey started in primary school when my mum introduced me to the piano. I began piano lessons at the age of eight and since then I have been stuck to the piano stool, guitar neck and microphone. Music is a massive part of my life, but for this article I will be writing about the art I create.

It was also around this time that I realised I wasn’t half bad at drawing, well atleast I hope so… I copied drawings of characters in children’s books and in year 6, I practiced my first self-portrait. From the start of secondary school, I began drawing portraits and low and behold, I loved it. Everywhere I went I had a sketchbook with me, in fact it was just a folder of loose printer paper but let’s try to at least sound professional. I was obsessed with drawing my favourite celebrities and movie characters, in a realistic style, gradually adding more shade with each drawing. In reflection, I would consider myself self-taught as drawing was an organic pastime for me. 

During my GCSE’s I attempted my first oil painting, a simple profile of myself. The ritual of gathering the brushes, oils, turpentine, and canvases made the experience of painting all the more special. Artists such as Rembrandt, William Turner, Mark Demsteader and Ron Hicks resonated with me hugely and I quickly developed a darker, more intense style. William Turner in particular was my main source of inspiration. I loved drama within a piece, simplicity was a concept that I would develop later. It was during this time that I created the large-scale painting entitled ‘LUCY’ along with my self-portrait ‘unedited me’. Fortunately, these two paintings were hung in the London Mall Galleries, an experience I will never forget. Lucy was my muse at the time and I later directed and filmed a short film in collaboration with her, depicting the physical effects of mental health issues. Following individuals changing emotions interested me hugely. Painting a close friend allowed me to understand how the sitter was feeling throughout the changing months. 

Throughout my A level studies I attended multiple life drawing classes and instantly fell in love with the process. For me life drawing classes bring such authenticity and freedom to somebody’s art. The fear of drawing ‘the wrong line’ left me and I began to embrace quick sketches, simplicity, and intimacy within a drawing. Naturally, this led me to study Egon Schiele, Toulouse Lautrec, Klimt and Tracy Emin. My work gradually became more figurative, looking at the subtlety in a person’s expression or body language. The romanticism of my previous paintings was refined into simpler pieces. 

Nowadays, I study the effects of listening to music whilst painting and how music influences the emotion within the paintings. After learning a piano piece, I like to paint it, to materialise the sounds I hear into colours and textures. This is a theme I’m currently developing alongside continuing simple drawings of the everyday people around me. I suppose I can’t predict the future of where my art will go, but I do know that I want to capture multiple art forms within one, not to box myself in and to explore the full stretch of the human emotion and psyche. Currently I am taking commissions and in my own time, developing an interest in capturing relationships and the ups and downs that go with them. I guess we’ll see where it goes from there…’