Gabrielle Graessle is a contemporary artist from Switzerland who now lives and works in Spain.
The munchies art club is a digital space, and most communication takes place on Instagram and via email, but with Gabrielle, I connected on the telephone.
We spoke for almost half an hour and I am sure if there weren't other things that needed to be dealt with, we would have spoken for much longer.
Talking to a stranger is not always easy, but this went so smoothly and we quickly discovered that we had much in common. She has done so many things I have always dreamt of doing beyond being an artist.
Gabrielle and her partner live in a place they call Nowhereland in Spain. A place that has become her haven and her home, and the place where she creates.
During my first phone call with the artist Gabrielle Graessle she told me a lot about her life. The artist was born and raised in Switzerland on the outskirts of Zürich.
The artist grew up surrounded by beautiful Swiss pastures, where she could express and develop her creativity in so many ways.
Till today she loves and respects nature very much. Her parents owned a Drogerie-Parfumerie, where they worked together, this gave Gabrielle a lot of free time, independence, and freedom when they were at work.
Gabrielle Graessle discovered drawing from a very young age, even when she was in Kindergarten, she turned to drawing and painting, separate from the other doll playing girls. In her years at school, she was fascinated by photographs of Churches shown in Religion class.
The colors, the stories behind them fascinated her. Religion class was more about impressions of color and history - she left the Church when she was 20. Gabrielle's parents triggered her artistic side from a young age.
Her mother gave her the gift of drawing in the form of her first colored pencils when she was three.
She describes her work as colorful, abstract, and Kitsch, if Kitsch, then definitely of the very best kind.
Later she explored the pages of her mother's Paul Klee book, bewitched by these simple pictures. She copied his drawings, her favorite Paul Klee “The forgetful Angel”, but really she loved them all, and still today has the book from her mother with her.
Her father, a great lover of Jazz, bought her her first turntable when she was seven, music has been a constant in her life ever since.
Growing up the artist developed a taste for comics, usually the ones with not too much text, those were her favorites. When she was a little bit older she discovered new artists like Matisse, again attracted by the colors and the simplicity.
Today her taste has become more diverse, she loves artists like Jeff Koons, Joe Bradley, Chris Martin, and Rose Wylie to name a few.
When Gabrielle Graessle finished school, she left home and dove into the Zürich art scene. During these 5 years of studying art, she was very actively involved in the art scene and worked together with galleries and collections.
At the beginning of her career, she mainly did drawing projects.
Later on, she moved with her partner through France, finding old buildings, and even a Chateau in a bad state but a good location, buying, restoring, and then selling, moving on to new projects, and new places.
During her house renovation period, she continued painting, but without focusing on galleries and the art world. When they stopped renovating houses 5 years ago, she once again placed her full concentration on her art and reconnecting with the art world.
She now lives with her partner in Spain between Malaga and Almeria, 3 km from the sea, in her Nowhereland. The area where she lives is known for breeding dogs called Galgos, similar to the Greyhounds.
They are not bred for racing, but instead for hunting rabbits. Unfortunately, once the dog is ill, wounded, or unfit, they end up being starved, forgotten, or left on the streets to fend for themselves. Gabrielle and her partner have two such saved dogs, and they are not the first.
The artist and her partner live in an old Cortijo they renovated. A Cortijo is common in the south of Spain, a traditional rural dwelling, similar to a Farmhouse.
There is a well on the premises that offers water, solar energy for electricity and hot water. It's quiet, surrounded by nature, the only sounds are the birds and the chorus of the cicadas that get louder the hotter the day. There are no distractions; it's just her partner and the two dogs.
he next Village is just a short drive away should they need something. This life permits her to concentrate fully on her work, with no distractions which she finds has a positive effect on her artwork.
It's been a year since she joined Instagram. Instagram has allowed her to reconnect with the art world beyond her Nowhereland, meet new people, explore, share, and exchange, she admits to me that she misses these things in isolation.
Especially now during the pandemic, not traveling, being more intensely cut off, makes her miss exchange with the like-minded even more. Her atelier is on the grounds of her property, most mornings after a hot cup of tea, and a walk with her two dogs, she heads there turning on music and releasing the creative drive.
There can be up to 6 canvases hanging on the walls, allowing her to move and work on one and then the other.
The topic is not always the same and not ascertained, and yet she enjoys working this way. It gives her a sense of freedom, not purely focusing on just one canvas.
Moving from one piece to another, unlocks new ideas and themes, taking on a life of their own, driven by her inner desire to draw and paint. When the artist has an artistic block, she turns to drawing, playing with different colors, varying shapes, and different forms.
She uses these drawings as models for her paintings. Her drawings happen spontaneously quite unintentionally, they represent more a moment of her day, her week, something that caught her interest coming from anywhere, the news, films, books, and memories from her past.
Her visual surroundings are then depicted unconstrained, looking to convey something real, that in turn can be freely understood by the viewer.
Other than concentrating on her artwork, Gabrielle and her partner have been working on their newest project: two artist studios on their grounds for artists' residential programs.
The studios are not ready yet, there is still a lack of infrastructures, such as the kitchen, bathrooms, solar panels, and facilities. it is a project that they have been working on for a long time and hope to finish sometime soon.
Social Media: Instagram Gabrielle Graessle
Website: Gabrielle Graessle
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A very big thank you to the wonderful artist Gabrielle for sharing her amazing work and story with us.