By Jnet

Walking into the L-Lounge this February might make you feel like you have entered some twisted carnival funhouse. Giselle Silvestriís art is sure to provoke a reaction of some sort. You may end up mesmerized, you may find it thought provoking, you may find it unnerving, you might get her sense of humour and find it deliciously delightful. One thing is certain, you will definitely take notice! Her mediums: acrylic, gold and silver leaf, oil varnishes, and plaster compound. She occasionally dabbles in collage. With training and experience running a mural company for 18 years, Giselle has technique in the bag. Now free from the constraints of commercial work she is able to let her imagination and atypical sense of humour play. In regard to her work Giselle has stated: ìThe use of pop and religious images both new and vintage are quite evident in my work. I take these images, sometimes distorting them, to illustrate life around me, both my personal experiences and things that are happening in the world. Approaching my work with humour, be it playful, mischievous or sarcastic, is how I cope with serious topics. My work, although filled with circus-like imagery, can to some people appear quite dark, even nightmarish.î Intrigued, I got in touch with Giselle to find out more.

VR: How did you get involved in art?

GS: Being an artist is the only thing Iíve ever wanted to do. It is one of my earliest memories. When I was growing up we had a set of Art Encyclopedias that my parents had purchased from a door-to-door salesperson. Any time I found myself stuck inside the house I would pour over those books. From Giotto to Rothko, I loved them all. Thatís pretty much all I ever thought of . . . art, art and more art.

VR: Did you take any schooling?

GS: I went to York University and graduated with a BFA Honours in painting and photography.

VR: Your work is often considered to be quite dark. Can you tell me why your themes are dark?

GS: Well, I grew up in a Roman Catholic family where both parents lived through The Second World War as children. So with all the talk of hell and the scary wartime stories my paranoid mind was born. Itís funny how, when the adults in my extended family got together and shared their scary adventures of their childhood; they always ended their tales with a huge chorus of laughter. They were laughing while I was trying to think of a safe hiding place in case the ìenemyî should ever make it into our house. I think thatís when I learned to deal with frightening situations by joking around and sarcasm.
VR: In reviewing your work, I noticed some religious symbolism and some pop culture. Tell me about your sources of inspiration, influences, and essentially how you have come to this style.

GS: My influences and inspirations include vintage advertising art, propaganda posters, music, religious art, tacky religious paraphernalia, photography, design and illustration. I came to this look over a period of time pulling from everything I just listed until I came up with my own style.

VR: What kinds of reactions do you often receive towards your work? What is your reaction to the reaction of others?

GS: I get a lot of positive feedback. Some people get my sense of humour, some donít. Iíve also been told, ìI really love your painting but I couldnít live with it!î I get it, not every one wants to stare at George Bush Jr. or Kim Jongís face everyday!

Giselleís work will definitely give you something to talk about, whether itís the dynamic use of mediums, the bold play of colour, or the social and political commentary. Twisted perhaps; provocative indeed!

In addition to being able to check out Giselle Silvestriís Iím the Bomb art exhibit at the L-Lounge of the Chrysalids Theatre throughout February, you can check out her Gelaskins designs:


Note from Jnet – I personally like The Warriors. Rock íem Sock íem in a whole new light! But some might enjoy Bush Jr. as a clown more.

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