A biography of Gabriella Capodiferro
Edited by Chiara Strozzieri
Edited by Chiara Strozzieri
Gabriella Capodiferro, born in Chieti in 1942, is an artist with fifty years of experience belonging to the European Informalism. She has been running a creative workshop for over twenty years and has been promoting cultural events all over Italy.
Her penchant for Art did not reveal itself clearly since her childhood, but Gabriella now still remembers when, as a child, she used to isolate herself from friends to do experiments with tissue papers, dunking, flouring and painting them.
She started to attend the Art School thanks to her careful and inspiring mother. In her first school years she suffered from recurring headaches that hindered her from being completely focused during lessons. At the end of the Middle School her teachers advised her to join the teacher training school but Gabriella’s mother, a creative and witty teacher, had noticed her daughter’s sketches so she encouraged her to try the placement test to enrol the Arts High School.
It was the year 1956 and that was a difficult examination: among the subjects Gabriella had to pass a Descriptive Geometry test whose task was to draw a spiral to perfection. However she successfully did it and she was allowed to attend the Arts High School in Pescara. So she started to travel daily between Pescara and Chieti, where her family had moved a few years before, until grim news alarmed her parents who decided to make her move to the Arts High School in Chieti.
At that time the Arts High School in Chieti was one of the best in Italy so Gabriella had the chance to meet such illustrious artists as Montini, Diano, Spiezia, Quocolo and the ceramists Bontempo and Bozzelli.
In that school she did learn applied arts: the school took part in such important competitions as the National Competition of Ceramic Art in Faenza and she learned how to design well, and that was very important for her transition from Figurative Art to Informalism. She also learned how to use ceramic colours to paint majolica and her passion for tactile arts made her lay aside graphic arts for a while. During that period she had a strict teacher, Mr Antonio Di Fabrizio, who used to demand that pupils reproduce stuffed birds.
In 1960, after her High School diploma, Gabriella Capodiferro enrolled for the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice where she met Professor Bruno Saetti who would become her academic advisor. He taught her the importance of “the line” because “In drawing”, as he put it, “it is the line which speaks and not what it represents”.
Thanks to the period spent in Venice she gained a great wealth of experience: for the first time she portrayed a nude model on a two-
metre- long piece of paper using merely a pencil; moreover, she was hosted by the Dominican Sisters of St. Imeldine in Venice and she started a close friendship with Silvana and Mariella who prevented her from being isolated by the other schoolfriends because of her Southern Italian origins.
At that time Venice was genuine, a cultural city in ferment, not yet the present popular tourist destination. With her friends she used to take refuge in the Querini Stampalia Library that was used to be open until midnight and where she would read up on the History of Art.
During her second year of Academy, in 1962, Gabriella held her first one-
woman exhibition of her paintings at the historical Café Eden in L’Aquila and she created her own brochures.
The visitors’ feedback confirmed all her doubts about her nude paintings which she herself perceived too academic, so she realized that she had to work more distinctively, in a genuine and authentic way.
In 1964, after finishing the Academy, she became an Art teacher and first worked for the Technical School for Surveyors “E. Fermi” in Lanciano and some years later for Liceo Scientifico “G. Galilei” in Pescara.
Gabriella was just 22 and her wish to stand out as an artist took her to the well-
known Margutta Art Gallery in Rome. Once there, Ms Leda dampened her enthusiasm showing hostility towards female artists who usually abandon their job once married, causing in so doing a drop in the market value of their works of art. That was the reason why she refused the young artist’s paintings. However, guessing her talent, Ms Leda invited her to go again to assess her progress over time.
On October 4th 1969 Gabriella Capodiferro married Antonio Taricani, her husband for all her life. He has always been fully aware of her temperament: only 4 days after their wedding Gabriella organized her first one-
woman exhibition in “San Marco” Art Gallery in Rome. Unfortunately the exhibition had demanded a great investment and in the end the result was disappointing. But this event gave her the opportunity to see that Antonio was a great support to her. In fact, he has always been close to her and has supported her flourishing art career. He is her official photographer and creator of her illustrated catalogues.
In addition, the exhibition in Rome gave her the chance to meet an important person: at the end of the event she returned to the gallery and found out that one of her paintings had been sold to a certain Gastone Favero who had left his address. Gabriella did not know that he was the managing director of RAI 1, whose studios were at the bottom of the street and who used to foster contacts with the local art galleries. Gabriella sent him a quick note to say thank you and to wish him Merry Christmas. He replied revealing his identity and offering her to be introduced in the most prestigious venues of the capital city. But Gabriella took advantage of this opportunity only three years later, when she felt more confident about her artistic skills and so she contacted Mr Favero. When she met him, together they organized an event at the gallery “Paesi Nuovi” in Montecitorio where all her paintings sold out, including her masterpiece Il bacio di Giuda, bought by the manager of the well-
known Ferri Publishing House in Rome.
That was the time when she made the important decision to refuse any tie-
ups with art galleries in order to develop her artistic skills freely. In fact, after the success of her last pictorial cycle she would be asked to paint in the usual style that she felt dated because too easy for her. Whereas, in her opinion, art should be a torment; it should question and stimulate her till the last stroke; it should push her to look for new techniques. So she decided to go back to her native Abruzzo, where she was free to experiment with new techniques and at the same time to keep on organizing exhibitions all over Italy, such as the one held in 1972 in the church of San Rocco in Este near Padua. That event was very important for the artist who was fascinated by the new and distinctive cultural context where art is not regarded as elitist but within everybody’s reach. So people from different social backgrounds showed interest in her works of art and all the paintings were sold.
In 1978 she spent five days in prison followed by a period under house arrest as she was charged with dissemination of pornography to pupils. Actually, she felt the moral responsibility as a teacher to give educational tips to her pupils who were confused about the contrast between the sexual freedom flaunted in the 60s and the true situation of a town where that freedom was still morally unacceptable. So, she dealt with the controversial issue in a highly professional way, using all the media, including magazines with nude photographs. It became a nationwide case and many people expressed solidarity with her through letters and even financial help. However the judicial process weighed heavily on her, so even though she was finally found completely innocent and her project defined by the judges “morally relevant”, Gabriella decided to leave teaching and once again devote herself to art.
She went back to Ms Leda of Margutta, who introduced her to the well-
known art historian Marcello Venturoli, who guided Gabriella toward an important turning point in her career. At first he criticized her openly for having a poor background; then he praised her for some sketches which Gabriella was reluctant to show because they were drawn during the years of the trial. The eminent historian affirmed that those sketches might be the beginning of something interesting and asked her to paint a diary about her painful experience.
Thanks to Venturoli, Gabriella Capodiferro resolved her distressing inner conflict and started to paint the cycle called “Qui si vive”, a frank pictorial account of her experience of life. In 1980, when she showed him her work, a touched Venturoli said: “You make me feel reconciled with my job as a critic. Now you are born”. On more than one occasion he exhibited her paintings and since then Gabriella has been often invited to exhibit: in 1983 the remarkable exhibition in the popular Astrolabio Art Gallery in Rome and in 1988 the exhibition in the Sant’Isaia Art Gallery in Bologna.
In 1985 Ms Leda visited her studio and she went into raptures over one of her paintings. “You are a Gabriella Capodiferro” she said, and she finally decided to organize an exhibition in the famous Art Gallery in Margutta street in Rome.
In those years her art developed from its iconic phase into Informalism. This new creative mode characterizes her work today and it has made her a well-
In 1987 she organized painting workshops for adults in her studio in Chieti after experiencing a project on behalf of the local council in a disadvantaged area of Pescara where, thanks to her, painting became an important pastime. The workshop, which later turned into a cultural group, was named MGC, “Movimento del Guardare Creativo” (Creative Watching Movement). In the last 24 years the movement has promoted a series of cultural events such as art exhibitions and guided tours and has caught the attention of the local media.
The MGC’s aim is to organize art workshops where the master passes on his knowledge without limiting the pupils’ own artistic style. The cultural association, then, felt a strong sense of responsibility towards the local community to promote such events as the show held in the National Archeological Museum “La Civitella” in Chieti.
Gabriella has been invited to exhibit in such important international art festivals as the 59th edition Michetti Prize, the 11th edition of Vasto Prize, the 52nd edition of Termoli Prize and the 37th edition of Sulmona Prize.
Her works are kept in prestigious buildings and are included in privately-
owned collections all over Italy. Furthermore they have been displayed in important galleries in Perugia, Treviso, Bologna, Padua, Rome, Milan, Modena and presented by eminent art critics like Piero Arcangeli, Antonio Gasbarrini, Giuseppe Rosato, Giorgio Seveso, Leo Strozzieri and others. Moreover she has exhibited abroad: in 1993 she held a memorable exhibition in the art gallery Du Pommier in Nauchatel, Switzerland and in 1995 she took part in Malta Arts Biennale.
In the Abruzzo Region she has supported many arts events with the aim of promoting the local cultural growth: the travelling exhibition called La mela di Eva held in 1989 and sponsored by the Abruzzo Region administration; the solo exhibition promoted by the Arts Museum Foundation in the castle of Nocciano (Pescara); the 2008 commemoration entitled Sulle tracce di Gabriele D’Annunzio held in the museum Casa natale di Gabriele D’Annunzio in Pescara.
In her life Gabriella Capodiferro has undertaken many research projects in the field of Art that led her to remarkable findings, always convinced that art is “occurrence”. So she will never deny what happened in her personal and artistic life and she will be always open to a unique evolution.