Former Italian artist looking for big break in Pittsburgh art scene

Fabrizio Gerbino, a classically trained Italian sculptor and painter, keeps most of his work in a converted church in McKees Rocks, where his studio stores hundreds of paintings.

Born in Italy in 1962, Fabrizio has called Pittsburgh home since the early 2000s when he and his wife, Cynthia Lutz, moved back to her hometown. The wide range of artwork visible in his studio showcases his many talents.

An industrial looking statue sitting next to a painting of the same statue
A found industrial artifact is pictured next to Fabrizio Gerbino's painting of the object // Photo by Patrick Fisher

In the early ’90s in Italy, Fabrizio’s practice largely revolved around creating installations out of found industrial materials. Now, nearly 30 years later, Fabrizio is revisiting his past works by translating works he initially photographed back in Italy into abstract paintings on canvas and paper.

A bald white man wearing a black T-shirt
Artist Fabrizio Gerbino // Photo by Patrick Fisher

As noted by Arts Council CEO Patrick Fisher during a recent studio visit, the subjects of the series become increasingly more abstract with each new painting.

While some pieces inside his studio show something as simple as the inside of a mixed paint can displaying an array of colors and spiral shapes, others have larger meanings, representing those photos from his past.

One such painting depicts a photograph he took of rusted scattered metal letters, recreated realistically with shadows and 3D characteristics. Another features an object labeled as “trash,” which was once used to display fake flowers before being discarded. After picking it up from the street, Fabrizio now displays it in his studio.

A painting of large rusted scattered metal letters
A painting by Fabrizio Gerbino as seen in his McKees Rocks studio // Photo by Patrick Fisher

“That’s how they used to sell fake flowers,” Fabrizio says. “I do a lot of working with found objects that become a source of inspiration for my paintings.”

Inside his studio, the giant fake flower stands next to his realistic painting of the found object. And although the space doesn’t allow Fabrizio to hang all of his artwork due to the large sizes he often utilizes, anyone who walks through the space can see the immense amount of dedication and work he puts into each and every piece.

Another one of his detailed and intricate pieces documents a controversial statue in Schenley Park. Though Fabrizio says he didn’t create the artwork because of political reasons, the story behind it is grounded in his Italian heritage.

A series of four paintings showing Pittsburgh's Christopher Columbus statue wrapped in plastic and yellow tape
A series of paintings by Fabrizio Gerbino depicting Pittsburgh's controversial Christopher Columbus statue // Photo by Isabella Abbott

On the eve of Columbus Day in 2020, a statue of Christopher Columbus was covered in plastic after former Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and the city’s art commission recommended the statue’s removal. While many other cities across the country removed their statues of Columbus, citing them as racist symbols following the death of George Floyd, some members of Pittsburgh’s Italian-American community tried to stop the removal.

After seeing the controversy, Fabrizio created a series of paintings with many different angles and perspectives of the covered statue. Each painting depicts the lengthy bright yellow tape surrounding the statue as well as a realistic rendering of the plastic wrapping around the figure.

A painted canvas of a stuffed Heathcliff doll
Fabrizio Gerbino's painting of a stuffed Heathcliff doll as seen in his McKees Rocks studio // Photo by Isabella Abbott

But his work, on view in his studio and in his online gallery, also includes lighter material, like paintings of colorful stuffed animals he saw sitting in a window looking almost human-like.

Throughout his time in Pittsburgh, Fabrizio has exhibited his work in various galleries and museums including the 2011 Pittsburgh Biennial at the Carnegie Museum of Art, 709 Penn Gallery, Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, Concept Art Gallery, and more.

Today, you can view one of his paintings on display at Espresso a Mano on Butler Street in Lawrenceville. He says he chose “Boboli Garden” – inspired by the time he spent living across the street from The Boboli Gardens in Florence, Italy – for the space because “it’s like a window opening to Italy.”

Fabrizio and Cynthia also both stress that while it’s often difficult to get people to their converted church, they would love to welcome more visitors to see his work in their McKees Rocks studio. Bonus, there’s a bakery down the street they’d be happy to recommend!

Fabrizio Gerbino. and


Artist Profile