Fabio Napoleoni at POP Gallery at Downtown Disney® West Side
“Sorrow, compassion and hope are my primary colors,” artist Fabio Napoleoni says about his vibrant work. His artistic pieces evoke emotion …
While his wife and baby daughter slept, he roamed the hospital hallways looking for the right spot to sit down to sketch. He remembers needing an outlet to express his inner turmoil, what one feels when their child falls ill. Napoleoni was not alone; he chatted with parents going through similar situations. Sketching round and square-headed stick figures soon turned into therapy sessions. From pen and ink drawings, his art eventually transitioned into vibrant pastels. In each piece a heart – a symbol for his daughter and her ailment. His art then reflected the ups and downs in their lives: When Lauren’s little heart felt stronger, Napoleoni’s art showed hope and joy. But when it felt weak, his cartoon characters exhibited melancholy, the heart scarred.
“I tried to capture not just my emotions, but of those around me who were also dealing with issues concerning their children. From then on my goal has been to create art that everyone can relate with,” Napoleoni says.
Today, after eleven medical procedures, Lauren is an energetic ten-year-old, nothing phasing her strong spirit. “If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” the artist remarks.
Napoleoni’s artistic world consists of adorable cartoon characters going on adventures, falling in love or getting their hearts broken. The main persona is Marcenivo, a square-head rag doll with one button eye. He escapes his reality by drawing unique worlds, capturing Napoleoni’s emotions as he goes through his own journeys in life.
Art first played a therapeutic role for Napoleoni in the early 1970s. Young Fabio suffered from severe asthma. His Italian-American mother, an artist herself, encouraged her son to explore his talent as he stayed indoors, avoiding asthma triggers. Like Marcenivo, Fabio created his own worlds through his art. When he was five years old, they moved from Puerto Rico to New York, where he continued drawing his comics. Spider Man was his favorite. In 1984, they relocated to Maine, where Napoleoni resides today with his own family.
“It was a rough transition,” Napoleoni told me. They were not many Italians in the town. Influenced by the skateboard culture, his drawings turned into graffiti art. Then, after high school, while pursuing his passion for music, he was paid to graffiti club walls and to create banners for various businesses. He would DJ on the side too.
“Art was always there,” he recalls. After studying music production in college, Napoleoni worked with stained glass artist Blaise Botti. When Botti took a look at his portfolio, he pushed the young artist to share his work with the public. He knew that it was not “Maine enough,” so they were going to get his work and his message out there through the digital world. They went to EBAY first.
Fabio Napoleoni now exhibits his art in national and international galleries. But POP Gallery at Downtown Disney® West Side at The Walt Disney World® Resort is a flagship representative. Here fans find the largest selections of the renowned artist’s originals, prints, limited edition artist proofs and sculptures. The Gallery is located directly across from Wolfgang Puck® Café and Bongos Cuban Café™, and between AMC Theatres and the Splitsville™ bowling lanes.
On April 19th and 20th, the Gallery unveiled Napoleoni’s latest original paintings and limited edition giclees, including a new piece exclusive for POP Gallery: “Blu Me Over With Your Love.” Blu, Napoleoni’s little bluebird character, inspired the centerpiece for this Easter art show. The lovable bird is The Kid’s (the gas-mask-wearing character) sidekick. Napoleoni’s latest work focuses on love, hope and faith, so Blu has been delivering good news and experiencing comedic adventures in love. In “A Little Love Crazy,” for example, zombie girl birds chase poor Blu while the heart keeps up with him during the escape.
The show featured eight new original paintings, three new pen and inks by Napoleoni, including the POP Gallery exclusive “Just Show Your Love.” On April 19th, the artist and gallery representatives unveiled these new pieces and hosted a meet and greet for guests and collectors.
Even two hours before the event, the line was quickly forming outside the petite gallery. That was not an unprecedented phenomenon.
“They travel from across the country,” Napoleoni told me. Fans often wait up to six hours in line to get a personal dedication and to share their stories with the artist. This is the biggest compliment– listening to people’s stories and hearing how his art pieces became part of their lives.
“Don’t buy art because it fits your furniture,” states Napoleoni, “buy art because you love it.” In other words, buy art because it stirs up emotions, you remember a special place or person in your life.
POP Gallery loves his work and the meaning behind his pieces. Besides understanding each character, gallery representatives own his art and they go above and beyond to convey his message to guests.
“[Napoleoni’s] art is the biggest reason I started to work here,” gallery representative Todd McKee told me. McKee understands the significance behind each piece and he always shares these stories with collectors.
Fabio Napoleoni enjoys working with POP because they want pieces that feature all of his characters, not only Marcenivo. They encourage the artist to broaden his focus and explore new characters. His future goals include partaking in large projects; for example, painting wall-size pieces especially for charitable causes. During the April art show, there was a silent auction for the “Feeling Blu” painting with one hundred percent of the proceeds donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Thanks to Disney, Orlando has a strong comic/cartoon culture. At Napoleoni’s first show at POP Gallery in 2009, he sold all of his pieces. He then knew a special relationship had formed not only with POP but also with the city. The artist loves visiting Orlando and sharing his newest art with his fans. He also plans to move here with his wife, son and daughter.
Inspired by Vincent Van Gogh, Jackson Pollock and Pablo Picasso, three artists known for spilling their emotions onto canvas and still managing to conjure strong feelings from today’s audiences, Napoleoni continues to expand his work by exploring new themes and creating new characters.
“Picasso never settled for just one form of art, but he tried many and mastered them all,” Napoleoni states on his website. We hope Fabio does the same.