In her visceral, vexing, often grotesque paintings, New York–based artist Gina Beavers (American, b. 1974) transforms digital images appropriated from social media and the Internet into thickly layered compositions that border on sculpture. Across a recurring repertoire of subject matter―from photos hashtagged #FoodPorn to step-by-step cosmetics tutorials―Beavers’s work offers uncanny and often unsettling visions of our digitally mediated lives.
Built up through dense accumulations of acrylic medium or foam and imbued with almost cinematic color, Beavers’s works are at once repulsive and alluring, highlighting the gap between our digital and physical lives and how we consume, desire, and fashion ourselves to reflect contemporary culture. Deriving their titles from the captions or comments that originally accompanied her source imagery, Beavers actively anticipates that her works will be posted, shared, and re-shared across online platforms. Although composed from social media streams and destined to be reabsorbed by them, the stubborn materiality of Beavers’s paintings resists the logic of digital reproduction.
The Life I Deserve opens with a selection of “food porn” paintings, from slabs of raw meat to a rainbow-colored soft serve cone, which allude both directly and indirectly to the body, pointing both to literal and virtual modes of consumption and desire. A small central gallery grapples with consumer culture in a different way: each of the works exhibit the artist’s interest in the history of painting as filtered through mashups of art and kitsch: fingernails painted with reproductions of art-historical masterworks like the Mona Lisa and Van Gogh's Starry Night rendered in bacon. The exhibition concludes with a gallery focused on Beavers’s representation of the human body, pointing to the often troubling politics of selfhood in the emotional and social spaces of the Internet.
Gina Beavers lives and works in New York City. Her work was featured in Greater New York at MoMA PS1 in 2015, and she has participated in group exhibitions at institutions including 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. Her work has been presented in solo exhibitions at galleries including Michael Benevento, Los Angeles; GNYP Gallery, Berlin; Carl Kostyal, London; James Fuentes, New York; Gavin Brown's Enterprise, New York; Cheim and Read, New York; and Canada Gallery, New York, among others.
Organized by Oliver Shultz, Curatorial Associate, MoMA PS1.