Gina Beavers

Biography

“I don’t really know how to talk about identity within my work without talking about consumption. We have to start with consumption if we’re going to talk about who we are. That’s the bedrock—especially as an American” 

– Gina Beavers in conversation with Oliver Shultz, MoMA PS1, 2019.

In her sensual, sometimes grotesque paintings, American artist Gina Beavers (b.1974, Athens) transforms images scavenged from social media and the Internet into thickly-layered acrylic compositions. Riffling on themes of self-image and consumerism, Gina Beavers’s paintings are a whimsical yet uncanny meditation on our online existence.

Gina Beavers earned a degree in Art and Anthropology from the University of Virginia, US. An anthropological curiosity is evident in her observation of social media. Drawing upon online trends and fetishes, such as #foodporn and bodybuilders’ selfies, or makeup tutorials for transvestites on YouTube, her paintings transfer flat-screen images into bulging textural paintings with a physical, sculptural presence. A rainbow-coloured creamy ice-cream cone, slabs of raw meat, heavily made-up lips and eyelashes are among Beavers’s repertoire of subjects. 

While the images originate online, Gina Beavers brings them to life. Resisting the ephemerality of social media and the flatness of the screen, Beavers maximises the potential of the physical paint, reendowing these objects with their hefty tactility. Beavers’s painted reliefs strain against the limits of the canvas, bordering on sculpture. 

“Rendered with an unsettling degree of realism, Beavers’s work is always more than merely representational. Whether depicting a painter’s palette or the fluorescent green of a bulbous tennis ball, her high-relief paintings protrude obscenely into the space of the viewer, insisting on their status as tactile things.” Oliver Shultz, Curatorial Associate at MoMA PS1, 2019.

Gina Beavers’s paintings depict the paradox of our online life: the tension between self-promotion and an underlying sense of anxiety and self-doubt. Her paintings filter these picture-perfect images of the internet with the authenticity of the life behind the screen: lips with brittle cracks or spidery tendrils on eyelashes. As the artist explains, “I feel that the original source images look more clean and appealing and my painting looks a little creepier. There’s a darkness or a surreal spookiness that has crept in. But seriously, part of my process is trying for this idea of beauty in the original image, and failing, and just living with the reality of the result.” – Gina Beavers in conversation with Oliver Shultz, MoMA PS1, 2019.

Beavers’s iconic paintings of lips and eyes often depict images in repetition, carefully reproducing step-by-step makeup tutorials. The recurring motifs also evoke Andy Warhol’s silkscreens and mechanical reproduction. In the surfeit of images that bombard us daily, these motifs have become so ubiquitous that we have ceased to analyse or reflect on them. 

She has recently begun to incorporate tennis, soccer and basketballs in her lip paintings, redressing beauty standards and gender stereotypes associated with sport and makeup.

Gina Beavers’s celebrated ‘food-porn’ paintings grapple with collective desires and consumer culture, turning food shapes into sexualised body parts – for instance, a kimchi hot dog covered in sauce and a cake sliced from a buttock. Beavers’s depiction of banal images of food recalls the deflated realism of Claes Oldenburg’s sculptures.

Sensual and unsettling, Gina Beavers’s bulging and brittle paintings are built up with hundreds of layers of acrylic which she chips and sculpts into form. In monumentalising these found images from an identifiably American consumer culture, they become both a resistance to the ephemerality of social media and a profound questioning of its projection of promised perfection through consumption and transformation.

“Beavers’s works create a complete equivalence—almost in a Jasper Johns-y way—between the paint and the thing which the paint is depicting. That’s a piece in which the canvas is frosted, almost as if you took the paint out of the frosting tube, or out of a soft-serve machine onto the object. The ontological slippage between paint and represented thing is really active there.”Oliver Shultz, Curatorial Associate at MoMA PS1.

 

Born in Athens, Greece in 1974, Gina Beavers lives and works in Newark, New Jersey. She holds a BA in Studio Art and Anthropology from the University of Virginia (1996), an MFA in Painting and Drawing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2000) and an MS in Education from Brooklyn College (2005).

Gina Beavers had her first solo exhibition at Carl Kostyál Gallery, London “Tennis Ball Yellow in 2017, followed by the solo show “Hilarisadat Carl Kostyál, San Damiano, Milan in 2019. Her works were also featured in various group exhibitions at Carl Kostyál Gallery, including: Summer Show’, Carl Kostyál Stockholm, Sweden (2017); ‘Malmö Sessions’, Ystadvägen 22, Malmö, Sweden (2019); and ‘Stockholm Dinner Sessions’, Stockholm, Sweden (2019). She did a Carl Kostyál residency:Inaugural Artist Residency at Fontana di Vite’(2018), Masseria Fontana di Vite, Matera, Italy; and participated in Carl Kostyal’s Draw Jam ‘Coccaro on Paper’, Masseria Torre Coccaro, Puglia, Italy (2018); and ‘Draw Jam 2019’ Masseria Fontana di Vite, Matera, Italy.

In March 2019, MoMA PS1 opened Beavers’ first solo museum exhibition, ‘Gina Beavers: The Life I Deserve’, which is accompanied by the artist’s first monograph. Gina Beavers’s work has been presented in solo exhibitions at galleries including Michael Benevento, Los Angeles; GNYP Gallery, Berlin; Carl Kostyál, London; James Fuentes, New York; Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, New York; Cheim and Read, New York; and Canada Gallery, New York, among others. 

Her work has also been included in group presentations at Kentucky Museum of Contemporary Art, Louisville; Nassau County Museum of Art, New York; Flag Art Foundation, New York; William Benton Museum of Art, Connecticut; and Abrons Art Center, New York. 

 

 

 

 

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