My work is about drawing
Whether it's because I've been doing it for a long time, something to do with my wiring or a little of both; I make drawings. Part of the reason is because I want to place a concept onto a physical object so I can see it with my own eyes. The distance between having the mental image and starting is very short. I draw because making art is also a method of study. So if I draw the uterus I'm studying the uterus. If I draw the human torso, I'm studying the human torso. Making art is also a way of trying to relate to something. I imagine what it would be like to have wings and hooves if I was Baphomet, for example. Like in the occasionally ongoing series of self-portraits as something. I wonder what it feels like to have a very long neck, like in the occasionally ongoing series of fictional people with very long necks.
Preparation to draw is minimal, if any. Sometimes I might secure paper to a board or the wall and sharpen a pencil, but even sharpening a pencil is nonexistent if I use a ballpoint pen. I use only one pencil during the making of a drawing because I like to make all tones by hand, which makes everything simple. Sometimes I incorporate a few other tools. For charcoal drawings I also use blending stumps, powdered charcoal and brushes. I use these additional tools mostly at the beginning of a drawing because they help me get through the sketch portion quickly. When I've put things in the generally correct area, I polish the drawing until I'm done.
I enjoy every stage and aspect of the process of making a drawing. From having the urge to draw an idea, to the first lines and erasures, the first tones and smudges, forms changing, the internal dialogue, correcting and moving, looking for additional references or forcing myself to work from my head. I enjoy the constant problem solving, the friction between the core of my pencil and the paper's fiber, the sounds drawing makes and its scents. I enjoy calibrating the relationships of heavy and soft marks, dark and light tones and between the marks and tones themselves. I enjoy getting dirty with powdered carbon, shaping the tip of the lead to a point, watching an area fill in with white noise, observing the fibers which make up my paper and degrading a tone. While drawing I might feel confident, studious, curious, scared, anxious, overwhelmed, ambitious, determined and avoidant. I discover deep concentration and vast amounts of patience within me. Drawing puts my integrity to the test, because I can choose to draw things I consider beautiful and up to my own quality standard or I can draw something just well enough for a viewer to like about some current trend subject matter.
Drawing makes me terrifyingly powerful because every single mark made, not made or erased that will be part of the resulting whole is a choice I made. With each line and problem to be solved, drawing asks whether I will choose to be responsible for all decisions taken. Drawing has bitter, frustrating moments and it also has the most gratifying ones.
Subject matter: myself and the human body
Around 2013 self-portraits became my proof that I was truly studying at The New York Academy of Art. A reason I draw self-portraits now is because I am the only model I can always afford and who knows exactly what I want. Self-portraits serve the purpose of digesting previous experiences, viewing my past behavior critically, indulging in visions of myself as a powerful mythological creature and appreciatively studying my face and body as I age. Observing myself in the mirror is strange and interestingly hypnotizing, but I draw self-portraits because looking in the mirror isn't enough. Looking in the mirror is a moment that ceases to be when I move. With a self-portrait I slowly freeze and dissect the point in time. It is then seasoned with notions during which I mull over the surface and ideas related to what I'm drawing. These inward reflections marinade and do something like maturing while I work. Drawing self-portraits has helped to better understand myself, because within the inner dialogue I can be scathingly critical and brutally honest with myself as the only judge, and I can explore ideas without fear of being shamed or censored. This untethered, challenging and intrepid exploration of thoughts is profoundly liberating and enlightening.
I also draw the body. I draw the human figure because I'm never done learning about it. Mother Nature's work is dizzyingly mindblowing. I get answers to questions, which produces further questions. I get answers, but very often need them reiterated. The variations in the appearance of bodies, the psychological and mythical variations and the ways in which the body can be depicted in drawing are infinite. It doesn't matter how much I draw, I can still learn and draw more. I have plans to draw the surface of the skin and the musculature in different ways, with different light, from different angles, from the inside and outside. I may have drawn many different bodies and self-portraits, both fictional and real, but bodies, myself and my ideas are going to change. This means a whole new set of variables is waiting to go through the filter of my body for me to draw them.
My body and the human figure in general are products of Mother Nature, and I consider her the most significant reason for which I am driven to make art. I don't always understand her logic, but I strive to earn understanding through my drawings and my life.
The tradition of depicting the figure
I believe the body has been portrayed consistently throughout history because we have an open-ended love-hate relationship with our entire existence. We can't make sense of it and can't figure out the justification. Nature's reasons for anything and everything are a mystery, we don't like them and we resent her. We feel inconsolably alone and confused on Earth and the Universe, because we childishly think of being the only ones to be self-aware as the worst possible thing. Seven billion humans apparently are not enough to share the loneliness with. In this desolate sense I hypothesize we depict the body: as a way to reach out. My depictions of myself and the body are how I reach within and out. I make art to attempt an understanding of Nature's arresting and humbling beauty.
- Online Show Contemporary Figurative Art Gallery 2021
- Art Miami New York Academy of Art 2019
- Dinner Party The Quin Hotel 2019
- Summer Exhibition New York Academy of Art 2019
- Towards New Ways Copro Gallery and Hyperrealism Magazine 2019
- New York Academy of Art Online Storefront Paddle8 2019
- Offscreen Art Show Ground Floor Gallery 2019
- 13th Hour 10th Anniversary Last Rites Gallery 2018
- Little but Fierce Chashama 2018
- Fifteenth Year Anniversary Group Show MF Art Gallery 2018
- Midnight Sun Last Rites Gallery 2018
- ONE YEAR OF RESISTANCE The Untitled Artspace 2018
- The Power of Silence Artlines Gallery 2017
- Noble Auction Noble Maritime Museum of Staten Island 2017
- Seen AND Heard Atrium Gallery in California 2017
- Coaster Show La Luz de Jesus Gallery in California 2017
- SELFIE Schelfhaudt Gallery in Connecticut 2017
- Journey of Dreams The Factory LIC 2017
- The Time is Now Chesterfield Gallery 2017
- Noble Auction Noble Maritime Museum of Staten Island 2016
- Three Witches Freddy's Bar 2016
- Second Annual Salon Show Lorimoto 2016
- Picturing the Unprintable Flux Factory 2016
- Summer Show Parlor Gallery 2016
- Summer show Art Barn 2016
- 10th Annual Summer Exhibition Flowers Gallery 2016
- Art New York Pier 94 2016
- Nudes & Jewels Collier West Gallery 2016
- Mementos 70 Columbus Hotel 2016
- My Favorite Things W Hotel 2015
- John A. Noble Art Auction The Noble Museum 2015
- New Ovington Village Bay Ridge Art Space 2015
- 9th Annual Summer Exhibition Flowers Gallery 2015
- Take Home a Nude Sotheby's 2015
- MFA Thesis Exhibition New York Academy of Art 2015
- Tribeca Ball New York Academy of Art 2014
- Take Home a Nude Sotheby's 2014
- MFA Open Studios New York Academy of Art 2014
- Tribeca Ball New York Academy of Art 2014
- Gabriela Miscelánea Restaurante el Manchego 2013
- Mundo Extraño Excedra Books 2008
Awards and Residencies
- The Scott and Patricia Moger Award Scott and Patricia Moger 2016
- Anatomy and Excellence Award Hudson Valley Art Association 2015
- Academy Service Scholar New York Academy of Art 2015
- Conexión Drácula Residency Casa Cultural Huellas 2012
- New York Academy of Art Master of Fine Arts 2015
- Universidad del Arte Ganexa Bachelor of Fine Arts 2011
Magazine, Book and Online Features
- University of the Arts Lecture Online Lecture 2021
- H and R Studio Online Panel Series: Ladies Who Line 2021
- Dynamic Human Anatomy by Roberto Osti Publication 2021
- Most Influential Art Magazine Online Publication 2021
- Blue Review's 20 Most Important Female Artists of 2020 Online Article 2020
- H and R Studio Online Panel Series: Drawing the Figure Today 2020
- Punto y Coma: Dibujo Realista con Gabriela Handal Online Interview 2019
- Average Art Magazine May Edition Magazine 2018
- CVA magazine 8th edition Magazine 2018
- New Times Newspaper Article 2017
- Artist of the Week in pencils.com Online Feature 2017
- Anti-Heroin Chic Online Feature 2016
- Crafty88 Online Feature 2016
- The Finger Magazine 2015
- Interkors Magazine 2015
- (t)here Magazine 2015
- Artspiradora Online Feature 2014
Gabriela Handal was born in the Republic of Panama and produces work in Brooklyn, New York. Her work depicts the human figure in different facets, like self-portraits, somewhat surreal individuals with very long necks and occasionally a more generalized view of Nature in the form of insect, flower or animal drawings. The driver of her desire to produce art is Mother Nature Herself. Drawing Nature is a way for her to study and appreciate everything She has made.
Gabriela obtained her undergraduate degree at Ganexa University of Arts in Panama and her graduate degree at the New York Academy of Art, where she obtained a major in drawing with a concentration in Anatomy. While studying at the New York Academy of Art she earned the Academy Service Scholar Scholarship and was granted the Anatomy Excellence Award by the Hudson Valley Art Association. Since graduating she has consistently produced, shown and sold art out of her studio.
Her work has been published in several magazines and books, including There Magazine and Roberto Osti's Dynamic Human Anatomy. Her work is also part of private collections in Faroe Islands, Germany, Brazil, Panama, Guatemala, Colombia, England and many states within the United States of America.
Her work is currently on show online at Contemporary Figurative Art Gallery.