Listen to Austin 360 Radio

Francesca Gabbiani creates stunning images with little pieces of paper

Jeanne Claire van Ryzin
'House of Falling Leaves'

You don't need to know that Los Angeles-based artist Francesca Gabbiani used as the inspiration for her latest exhibit at Lora Reynolds Gallery the 1973 drug-fueled psychedelic film 'The Holy Mountain' by Alejandro Jordorowsky.

Nor do you really need to know that the title of the exhibit, 'Dream Baby Dream,' is the same as a song by the band Suicide, an influential protopunk duo that Gabbiani once saw while she was in art school in Switzerland.

Gabbiani's vividly colored cut-paper collages are steeped in the creepier, weirder side of pop culture and culture in general. Horror movies, the films of Jean Cocteau, hippy jewelry sporting the images of cannabis leaves, Lewis Carroll - it's all fodder for Gabbiani.

No wonder there's a familiarity to her work: It's a mash-up of cultural references that many of us have stuffed in our minds.

These images of people-less interior scenes or odd arrangements of flora and fauna are cinema-esque, quasi-psychedelic, stuffed with pop culture references and suffused with a kind of adolescent melancholia. An ornate boudoir sits empty. An owl and a fox pose next to a heap of odd treasures.

This is not intellectually deep stuff, but it's fun.

Gabbiani's cut paper medium defies at first. The large-scale pictures might be paintings, or prints even. But on closer inspection you realize these are images crafted from thousands of infinitesimally small pieces of paper minutely layered and arranged.

That Gabbiani has chosen to taken such a delicate, fussy way of putting together an image and give it massive physical scale is a nifty trick.

Works like 'Hunters and Collectors' reach 5-feet-by-4-feet in size, though with their crazy dense colored figures and forms they look as if they should be album covers for 1960s psychedelic rock bands.

The cut paper collaging augmented with a little painted gouache - Gabbiani's standard technique seen in two previous solo shows at Lora Reynolds Gallery - also servers the artist well in enhancing the filmic presence she so found of provoking.

Unpeopled interior scenes like 'House of Falling Leaves' - showing winding Art Nouvea staircase with a ornate iron rail - become subtly flattened and foreshortened in Gabbiani's hands, echoing the effect that a film lens sometimes adds.

Filled with mood and aura if lacking a bit in depth, Gabbiani's weird images nevertheless entertain.

jvanryzin@statesman.com; 445-3699

'Francesca Gabbiani: Dream Baby Dream'

When: through July 10

Where: Lora Reynolds Gallery, 360 Nueces St.

Cost: Free

Info:www.lorareynolds.com