Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Gina Beavers

From twice-removed appropriations of Broadway Boogie Woogie, to saltily saturated images of In-N-Out burgers and sumptuous blown-up lipstick how-tos, Gina Beavers turns the alternate reality of the internet in on itself. Last summer I reveled in seeing my feed light up with a decade of Beavers' spectacular paintings as people raved about her show at MoMA PS1 all over social media. Gina is currently finishing up her paintings for her first solo show at Marianne Boesky, which has been rescheduled for mid May, so the timing couldn't have been more perfect for my first FaceTime Pencil in the Studio. We bounced back and forth from Gina's new and exciting body of work (and how she arrived at it) to the perilous state of the world (and how we will survive in it). It was both stimulating and comforting to hear one of my long time favorite artists talk about her work (almost) in person for a few hours. Figuring out new ways to find a sense calm and normalcy in our art practices is no easy task. Gina and I were able to do it together for an afternoon with her sitting high atop her scaffolding in her New Jersey studio and me drawing from a screen in Brooklyn.

It was a multi-layered experience cruising through Gina Beaver's show at PS1. Think of three rooms with white floors and white walls and Gina's varying sized sculptural paintings hanging up side by side throughout. Try to imagine that you're walking through the internet during a search that Gina Beavers is making looking for images for her art. This thought can be helped along by the large cube covered in exaggerated purple eyelids that sits in the center of one of the rooms, gently edging you closer to a meta third dimension. It only takes a little imagination for the viewer to see themselves trapped, like Homer3 from the Simpsons' Treehouse of Horrors VI, inside GinaWorld. The rabbit hole that is the internet at some point must have led Gina to look up how vernacular artists approach creativity and the bizarre ways their endeavors materialize. Take Beavers' painting of Van Gogh's Starry Night. Hers is a relief depiction of a rendition of "Starry Night" made out of bacon. Gina's larger than life pop masterpieces are made using her signature style. She starts by first carving the image out of foam and then skillfully paints that foam, shadows and all, with acrylic. For her most recent group of paintings, Gina explained she is doing her own make-up how-tos in the mirror, capturing the event in photographs, and then making paintings based on those images. One painting is of giant lips covered in Laura Owens' artwork. What a lively and performative way of making her art while paying homage to some of the great females of our time. With a mash-up of art world sophistication and the earnestness that can be found in everyday creative acts, Gina is keeping it real, real fun and really really good. 
                          Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh as rendered in Bacon, 2016

                      Installation shot of The Life I deserve at MoMA PS1 with Erik and Myself                                                                           
It isn't easy to make things right now, and it is OK to not, but Gina is busting out with an incredible body of work during an unimaginably difficult time. How truly inspiring, and promising, for the future of art when all of this is over. Go see her show at Marrianne Boesky when it opens. It will be such a joyous occasion in more ways than one. To see more of Gina Beavers work go to