Artists of Orli: Meet Gena Milanesi
“We all strive for the balance of welcoming the contemporary and honoring the past.”
Gena Milanesi is the brilliant multimedia artist behind the striking Irving Gill-inspired ink sketchings in Orli La Jolla’s Lounge. We caught up with Gena to discuss the creative process behind this piece, how interior design and architecture informed her project, and more. Join our conversation below.
Can you tell us a little bit about your journey to becoming a self-taught multimedia artist? What drew you to your craft?
Painting is about starting something without the answers. The losing and the finding, falling apart and rebuilding; there is a beautiful human quality about this process.
What are the mediums you primarily work with?
I am drawn to texture so mediums range from oil, acrylic, charcoal, graphite, and actual house paint.
You’ve shared that you pull inspiration from your experience as a dual US/UK citizen. Can you share more about that?
I am able to experience two different, similar, but familiar cultures. There is a humility and acceptance because of this slightly wider lens. Yes – home is a physical place, but it is also very much a feeling. Wherever I am, this feeling is grounding, especially when lost with little sense of direction.
How did you get connected with Orli La Jolla and get signed on to complete the ink sketches for the Lounge?
On both a creative and human level, Hailey and Max have been inspiring for many years. Having a shared affinity for charming details, it’s an absolute thrill to have my work be a small part of their new vision and compliment the stunning aesthetics of Orli.
Tell us about the materials, colors, and techniques used and the inspiration behind them.
The collection of sketches illustrates the revolutionary Irving Gill structures that made him a pioneer at the dawn of the Modern Movement in architecture. The details include various perspectives of Orli La Jolla architecture, some of zoomed angles of distinct window sills and others of distanced, yet impactful frameworks. As far as materials, ink sketches on found, delicately aged dictionary pages encompass the nature of architectural blueprints and the beginnings of the creative process itself.
Walk us through the different stages of the project. What did it look like in early stages and how did you know when it was really coming together? Any photos you can share that show the stages?
This project was unique because the design team and I had a shared vision that the space demanded notably specific pieces. We all strive for the balance of welcoming the contemporary and honoring the past. With the enthralling history of Irving Gill, the used mediums were a very clear path. It was a natural and enjoyable collaboration.
How did the interior design and architecture of the Lounge influence your artwork?
Since the design intricacies of this new oasis already cater to discerning travelers, I had the intention of maintaining simple, yet deliberate renderings that give a nod to the landmark’s history and reveal the raw beauty of the creative process.
Your website mentions that your practice is “an instinctive exploration of calculated and spontaneous gestures.” Can you tell us more about this methodology?
This methodology stems from the notion that artists are vessels for the conversation between mediums. I am regimented in my practice and the necessary level of introspection fundamentally relies on instinct until the point where figurations play from a more conceptual mode. I think the magic for a painter is in the little moments; the unexpected ones that lead to a specific mark or a thought written down on a scrap of paper that could evolve, or could not. The slightest gestures have become significant to my work and have taken me beyond where I imagined.
How do you know when a piece is “finished?”
When the conversation between mediums no longer needs your input, you have done all you needed to do.
See Gena’s work in person on your next visit to Orli La Jolla. Book today.
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