In the late 19th century, Southern California attracted misfits, idealists, and entrepreneurs with few ties to anyone or anything. Swamis, spiritualists, and other self-proclaimed religious authorities quickly made their way out West to forge new faiths. Independent book publishers, motivational speakers, and metaphysical-minded artists and writers then became part of the Los Angeles landscape. City of the Seekers examines how the legacy of this spiritual freedom enables artists to make creative work as part of their practices.
What happens to the body after death? Do the molecules that once made up a living, breathing human transform into something else? Does the human soul then become one with the cosmos? Inspired by questions such as these, figurative artist Natalia Fabia has created a series of lush, ethereal paintings in a new show called Rainbeau Samsara, the title referring to the cycle of death and rebirth to which life in the physical world is tied.
Rainbeau Samsara evolved following the sudden death of Fabia's brother and the birth of her daughter, Peribeau. Literally confronted with the awe-inspiring reality of mortality, Fabia found solace in meditation. During this period of reflection, she set out to make sense of the seemingly senseless, immersing herself in her work. The result is a series of elegant, hypnotic paintings that visually represent the human soul's cycle of birth, death, decay, and rebirth. In each stage, there are celestial gateways in the form of natural phenomena that give us a glimpse of what awaits beyond the material world. These fleeting moments are what Fabia expertly translates into her paintings.
The daughter of Polish immigrants, Fabia is an LA native who graduated from ArtCenter College of Design. Her influences include fashion designers like the late Alexander McQueen, as well as English Pre-Raphaelite painter John William Waterhouse, French Post-Impressionist Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, and Disney artist Eyvind Earle. Inspired by punk rock, fashion, glamor, street art, and traditional landscapes, Fabia's own otherworldly oil paintings shimmer, glint, and gleam with expressive color.
"I am a traditional figurative oil painter, painting in a stylized realism," Fabia tells The Creators Project. "I paint in an alla prima style when I paint from life. I use my friends as models, and typically stage photo shoots for my large, elaborate paintings. Finished pieces consist of multiple layers that involve a complex process of building paint layers while attempting to maintain as much of a direct painting process as possible. I like to create colorful worlds and landscapes, and see what stories people can derive from them."
Fabia says that Rainbeau Samsara is a reflection of her search for truth, and that her art always comes from a place of examination. "I have a million ideas in my head at any given time, so I do a lot of meditating and yoga to help me focus. After I pull one of these ideas into creation, then it is a matter of pursuing the work for hours. My paintings give back and speak to me; they transform and change, giving me insight on what to do next."
As someone who was raised in Los Angeles, Fabia feels that the city's high population density, coupled with the elusive Hollywood mystique, means more creative individuals. "I suppose LA is more open spiritually," she says. "Maybe being confined to a rigid belief system in rural America would inhibit my creative freedom by self-censoring. It is nice to be able to be yourself and accepted. I never have a shortage of models and support. There is a great art community here."