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Art

#Nick Gentry#painting#portraits#technology

Nick Gentry’s Technological Portraits Broach the Artificiality of Online Identities

August 25, 2023

Grace Ebert

A grayscale portrait on vhs tapes

“Mask 1” (2023), used VHS cassette tapes, spray paint, and oil paint on wood, 20.5 x 29.5 inches. All images © Nick Gentry, courtesy of Robert Fontaine Gallery, shared with permission

In Skin Deep, Nick Gentry probes the “chasm between real and online personas.” Working on painted backdrops of outdated technology like floppy disks and VHS tapes, the artist invites questions that are uniquely contemporary, asking about performance and presentation on the internet, increasingly artificial standards of beauty, and the instability of memory over time.

Diverging from his earlier portraits that were more faithful to a subject’s likeness, Gentry’s new body of work is deeply influenced by the virtual. He often paints his figures in grayscale, leaving them devoid of defining characteristics, and uses the tape’s plastic reels to highlight their eyes. This melding of human and machine elicits the cold, detached feeling associated with a cyborg and emphasizes the synthetic, masked nature of online identities. Given the irrelevance of the once-groundbreaking technology, the portraits also speak to the inevitable shifts in importance and how information is stored, shared, and remembered.

Skin Deep is on view through September 30 at Robert Fontaine Gallery in Miami Beach. You can find more from Gentry on his site and Instagram.

A grayscale silhouette of a man with a blue shirt on VHS tapes

“Replicant 3” (2023), used VHS cassette tapes, spray paint, and oil paint on wood, 20.5 x 29.5 inches

Two portraits of twin-like cyborg figures

“Viewing Figures” (2022), used VHS cassette tapes and paint on wood, 25 x 37 inches

A portrait of a woman with red lipstick on white-painted VHS tapes

“Skin Deep” (2023), used VHS cassette tapes, spray paint, and oil paint on wood, 45 x 45 inches

A grayscale silhouette of a man on green painted VHS tapes

“Analogue Montage Number 1” (2023), used VHS cassette tapes, spray paint, and oil paint on wood, 32.25 x 37 inches

Two portraits, one on purple painted VHS tapes and the other on floppy disks. Both depict grayscale figures

Left: “The Fool” (2023), used VHS cassette tapes, spray paint, and oil paint on wood, 10 x 9 inches. Right: “Populous” (2023), used computer disks and oil paint on wood, 37 x 28 inches

Two similar looking portraits of women facing outward, their backs together

“Binary” (2021), used floppy disks and paint on wood, 19 x 32 inches

#Nick Gentry#painting#portraits#technology

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