LA-based artist Diane Gaeta explores the complex themes of sexuality, self discovery and the life of a young Parisian girl through the manipulation of her image found on social networks in “Lolitas,” Gaeta’s two-day solo show at The America Martin Gallery. We had a chance to meet Gaeta in her studio, preview the large scale works on paper and discuss the creative process behind bringing a stranger to life through meticulous illustration.
How did you find the Parisian teenager? How did the communications start?
I knew her father from a film I was working on and during a break he showed me pictures of his daughter and I was totally taken by her. She had such a frankness and innocence to her and I really felt she represented so much of her time and age. He loved the idea of me drawing her and thought she would be so flattered, so he connected us via Facebook.
Can you describe your creative process and photo research?
It was really just a journey through her world, the thousands of photographs she had compiled and then picking the ones that grabbed me and whittling them down until I had a cohesive show and tweaking the final images until I was ready to illustrate them.
Did you have a number of illustrations in mind for its completion?
I did, I like the roundness of the number 20, so I stopped myself at 21.
What was your biggest challenge in the communications process?
French. Seriously, the language barrier was tough but we muddled through it with her dad.
How were you as a teenager? Do you see yourself in these images or is it mostly fantasy?
I was friendly as a teenager, but also shy. Social media didn’t exist yet so I found my voice and solace in shared awkwardness by forming mostly important duets in my teenage years as opposed to the broad connections these French girls share through their pages. I am in everything I create, I can’t take myself out, but these girls are so lovely that I think they are a little idealized. Fantasy and sexuality have always gone hand in hand so I think that both are true for me about these images.
Why did you decide to title the show like Nabokov’s famous book?
Because I felt it was a single word encapsulation of the entire concept. The tease of a young girl but kept safely behind glass.
How long have you been working on this show?
This show was a little over two years in the making, with some work coming more quickly and other pieces being akin to a difficult relationship I struggled through.
What’s next for you?
I really don’t like the word ‘next’. It implies a choice or understanding of the future. All I know is I’m flying to Albany to work on a life study subject.
A two-day only exhibition at The America Martin Gallery, “Lolitas” is opening with a cocktail reception on 27 October and closing with a brunch showing on 28 October 2012.
Images by Lily Flores