Gena Milanesi

Artist Q&A with Gena Milanesi

Gena Milanesi is a self-taught painter whose work reflects a remastered reality through intense brushstrokes & movement. Her bold layers of paint function to achieve a distinct energy with oil, acrylic & other mixed mediums. As a dual-citizen of the United States and United Kingdom, she constantly retracts to her roots as a source of inspiration. Her work presents a simultaneous exploration of the contemporary that reoccurs showing concepts of newness & practices of the past. Her figurative works interpret various imagery using monochromatic hues to underscore juxtaposed content in a straightforward manner. As of 2020, Milanesi has been creating a series of abstract pieces with her continued stylized layers and mixed media.

 “The Second Portal”, oil, acrylic, spray paint, and graphite on canvas, 60 x 86 in | 152 x 218 cm, 2021

Who is your favorite artist of all time?

This is a difficult question. There’s simply too many. I’d have to say Van Gogh or Turner, if I could own one.

How did you become a professional artist?

I am self-taught, but I have been creating for as long as I can remember. Painting was always a fascination of mine, and a craft that consumed me. Art school was out of the question so I had to make this all work and keep learning through uncharted waters. Most of the time, you must start something without the answers and navigate the uncertainty. 

What are the influences and inspirations in your work?


Gena Milanesi, portrait by Alanna Durkee.

How is your work different than everything else out there?

I don’t really take this into account. I strive to keep my work honest and evoke a reaction, good or bad, because I want the viewer to feel something. With these objectives as driving forces, I hope my work lends another perspective. 

When is a piece finished for you?

There is true creativity in subtraction. When you walk away the night before and come back the next day or so with a fresh eye making minimal (if any) modifications, it’s finished.

What’s different about your current body of work?

These abstract works have been an exploratory means rooted in pure emotion, especially the desire to escape while remaining stationary. In creating these works, the necessary level of introspection fundamentally relies on instinct whereas figurative works play from a more conceptual mode.

 “Gasoline Alley”, oil, acrylic, spray paint, and graphite on canvas, 32 x 66 in | 81 x 168 cm, 2021 

Tell us about a few of your career highlights or moments that have greatly affected your career?

I had a solo exhibition at Bergamot Station in 2017, a location that I often dreamed of as a child since it is in my hometown of Santa Monica. As I often retract to my roots for inspiration, the imagery was all of British inventions and my first series in monochromatic hues.  This show was all encompassing as far as being both sentimental and well received. It also served as a framework and sparked inspiration for many collections in the following years. 

What’s coming up for you?

I am thoroughly enjoying this continued exploration of texture and color in my abstract pieces as I create this body of work in my studio. I have a feature in Teeth Magazine coming up, and also excited to be in a wonderful group show, The Truth in the Face of Reality at Robert Berry Gallery

What advice would you give to an artist just starting out today?

Show up and leave your ego at the door. Also, do not be afraid of failure because you find magic in the mistakes. 

Who are some of your favorite under appreciated artists that you don’t think get enough attention?

Deceased: Elaine de Kooning. Living: Charming Baker and Jonathan Freemantle

 “The Second Portal”, oil, acrylic, spray paint, and graphite on canvas, 87 x 57 in | 221 x 145 cm, 2021

To learn more about Gena and her work, please visit