NATALIA FABIA ROCKS OUT IN HER NEW SHOW
Natalia Fabia has rapidly established herself as a Los Angeles art scene fixture, with her photorealistic paintings of girls in difficult, sexy, and girly subcultures often lining West Coast gallery walls. But she finally gets her East Coast due with her initial solo show in New York, Punk Rock Rainbow Sparkle, which opens this Saturday at Jonathan Levine Gallery.
“A little more than a year ago I spent around 3 months all over New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia. I wanted to just explore every little thing, meet new individuals, come across fascinating places…I didn’t genuinely have a set strategy,” Fabia explains. But very quickly, a theme emerged: “It’s traditional figurative painting, but with my twist on these female figures. They all have this punk rock sparkly attitude or style. And it’s genuine, even as ridiculous as some of it might appear.”
After Fabia recruited buddies and created models out of men and women she met randomly (1 of the women featured in this show was a bartender Fabia located in Asbury Park, who was initially shocked at the believed of any person wanting her to pose), she arranged photo shoots in settings that particularly caught her eye, at times styling the girls but often letting them wear whatever they felt most comfortable in. She then sorted through hundreds of pictures, choosing her favorites to use as inspiration for the subsequent step, painting them. “After I go through pictures, I then commence messing with the light, messing with the image, moving things around, making issues bigger, smaller,” says Fabia. There’s also the approach of adding in the skulls, rainbows, glitter, and butterflies that are woven into the otherwise natural-looking paintings. “This show signifies so a lot to me because of the graphic element,” she notes, adding, “Which I adore, due to the fact I got tagged as just being this photorealistic painter. It’s great—I really like getting a classic painter—but I also really like fantasy and abstract components.”
Although it may be a strange juxtaposition, Fabia sees it as a way of definitely showing that her models are complicated people. “They love spikes and skulls and sparkles, but they’re nonetheless hardcore men and women. Even if the paintings do not look punk rock, it’s that freedom.” It’s a thing that she certainly relates to when she was younger, Fabia was a “little punk rocker,” and she wanted to capture what she sees as the strength of the subculture. It was a lesson she was reminded of during her go to to New York: “There’s a piece I wanted to shoot underwater, and exactly where we went [to shoot it] was all scuba divers wearing full gear and oxygen tanks and flippers, and I had these girls naked with just fabric around them. They were such troupers, they just jumped in,” she remembers. “And that is the point—this hardcore attitude that I wanted to show through the paintings. The whole show is just about the attitude.”