The subjects of ‘Sittings/Sightings’ were drawn from three principal sources: Some are friends, painted from life; others spring from works by 15th and 16th century Italian masters; and still others hail from the upper echelons of Instagram influencers. The work here revels in the confluence between the classical tradition and our modern, digital modes of portraying style and influence. The paintings blend the intimacy of personal portraits with the mannered theatricality that has always marked depictions of great beauty and power. Through the pictorial language and techniques of the Renaissance, Gabriel approaches his subjects with both archness and reverence: A delight in depicting the human form shares the canvas with an awareness of the absurdity of projecting out likenesses into the world.
This collaging results in a series of winks and allusions. In ‘The Balanced Breakfast,’ the Tuscan landscape in the background of a Ghirlandaio portrait that provided initial inspiration has been transposed onto the kitchen tiles. The right-hand figure appearing in his ‘Double Shot’ is taken from Titian’s Sacred and Profane Love. The left-hand woman seen in ‘The Venus of the Crostata’ is inspired by the central figure in Tintoretto’s Mercury and the Graces (although she wears a dress from Dolce and Gabbana).