"The tattoo artist is a magician who brings out memories, love, hate on the skin; he is a storyteller” explains Gabriele Donnini, one of the “best known” tattoo artists in the capital and today also the author of works that are unique pieces like his tattoos; fragments of the artist's soul that move into another person, or momentarily splits himself on canvas, transferring into his work, whether it is a piece of skin or an object or a wooden board or a sheet of paper, a personal feeling, an emotion, a pain captured in the other or recovered from his past. Works of art in which the components are creativity, skill, inventiveness, passion, experience, effort, and love for his work.
The use of the body as a means by which one can indelibly impress a memory or one's emotions or tell part of one's experience by synthesizing it in a sentence, a symbol or a drawing has very ancient origins, it seems to date back to 3300 BC; with a healing function, perhaps of the soul as well as of the body or to emphasize an ethnic and tribal belonging. Much more recently, the Body Art theorized by Allan Kaprow in 1959 meant that the skin became a filter of experiences that are projected outside, revealing itself to be an amplifier of emotional experiences to be shared with one's community.
Gabriele Donnini has, in his long history as a tattoo artist, always sought the deep meaning of the sign, never lingering only on the technique, keeping in mind the impact strength and power that each tattoo has in itself and that goes far beyond its ability to perform.
And today his works have the same intent, they tell his story, a difficult and particular experience, his detention in prison; they speak of the nights and days spent reproducing on a notebook the drawings and words that the many predecessors had engraved on the walls of his cell: "I love Mom" the writing that becomes in the prison cross tattoo, a way to ask forgiveness to one's mother and to show love to her who is our accomplice in good and evil, and then "Don't cry for me", "The Fall of a man", "Game over", "Je ne regrette rien", just to mention a few phrases that speak of hope or indicate the fall of one's illusions.
During the period of detention, in collaboration with ANTIGONE LAZIO, he developed the “AMOMAMMA” project. In the penitentiary code, no article prohibits the tattoo, but it has always been a cause of repression by the custodians but not only: in prison, the machines are built with salvaged objects, in the worst case you can tattoo yourself without taking into account the hygienic hazard. The project has brought for the first time courses for tattoo artists within a prison, with the dual aim of obtaining a reduction in harm and at the same time giving a concrete job opportunity to the inmates who participate in the courses. A tattoo that is no longer fashionable and ostentatious, but takes on a deeper meaning, precisely because of the place where it is made, both for those who perform it and for those who wear it.
He then developed the “Belli come il sole” project for the children imprisoned with the inmates of the Rebibbia prison in Rome.
He participates in the exhibition "Tattoo art on the skin" at the Museum of Oriental Art of Turin with a cross-dimensional paper depicting a Christ, drawn with a ballpoint pen during the period of detention and the tattoo machine, secretly built in Prison; an opportunity to make peace with the world - he explains - to make people understand the value of a tattoo made with that tool; the machine will then, unfortunately, be stolen, depriving it of an object that was both a symbol and a memory.
Today the works of Gabriele Donnini find space inside the RestelliArtCo Gallery. always attentive to visual experimentation, precisely to encourage the sharing and exchange of ideas, allowing developing inter-artistic collaborations, mixes, and intersections between the different languages of the contemporary.