"I’m making from the center of everything. Part of that comes from an extremely online life and the subjects that spring from it. And politics is now part of that identity, Americans talk about politics like sports now, it has become such a pivotal aspect of being online.", says American visual artist Gina Beavers in connection to a new solo exhibition with Carl Kostyál in Stockholm.
Gina Beavers. Courtesy Kelly de Geer and the Artist
C-P: I remember the first time I saw a work of yours; by way of an image of it. A friend sent me a birthday wish including an image of your work Cake (2015). It just cracked me up. I thought it was sensationally funny and very sexy too. Humour is evident in much of your work. What’s been cracking you up lately in the studio? G.B: Well, this new body of work, I call MoMA Bra based on a sports bra I bought in the MoMA museum shop. I thought it was a funny product itself, even funnier when I as an artist would wear it. So I took selfies in it and made paintings from them. Just the words MoMA and Bra next to each other bring up interesting things, high/low, masculine/feminine, elevated/practical. And then it’s also satirical; nothing says girl boss like a sports bra!
Gina Beavers, Monet Lip, 2022 Acrylic and foam on linen on panel 90.81h x 109.22w x 33.02d cm, photo by Charles Benton © the artist. Courtesy of Carl Kostyál, London, Stockholm
C-P: Your work on a more general note uses a body of low-brow iconography in a high-brow contemporary art context. Based on the visual identity of the work you do I imagine you must get asked certain questions all the time, e.g. whether your work is a celebration of feminine aesthetic or a scrutinizing feminist statement. Clearly there’s always at least a feeling of mirroring a zeitgeist, whether question of elections or a contemporary internet phenomenon such as make-up tutorials. G.B: Anytime there’s a feminine element, there is scrutinization, desired or not. A tricky aspect of working with the "female form" as a subject in visual art is there is no shortage of representations of women. Being seen is not an issue, being heard is. So I think I’m always drawn to representations that complicate people’s expectations or throw the consumption of women’s bodies back at the viewer. The make-up tutorials are also a way for the painting to make itself. They’re about self-creation and self-determination in the end. And whether it’s nail art or food or politics I think my perspective is one where I’m making from the center of everything. Part of that comes from an extremely online life and the subjects that spring from it. And politics is now part of that identity, Americans talk about politics like sports now, it has become such a pivotal aspect of being online. Pretty wild if you think about it!
Gina Beavers, Waterlilly Lip, 2022 Acrylic and foam on linen on panel 182.88h x 182.88w x 35.56d cm, photo by Charles Benton © the artist. Courtesy of Carl Kostyál, London, Stockholm
C-P: I'm curious about your collecting process when it comes to the imagery that serves as inspiration for your artworks. G.B: For over a decade I’ve been screenshotting images that are interesting to me on my phone and I will go back when I plan works and look through them. There’s either a striking visual element to them or a narrative that’s important. The ones that result in paintings have both. Now I’m at the point where I’m riffing off these images in my own ways, making my own memes, lip tutorials, nail art. I’ll think "anatomical heart nails?" and go looking for them and if they don’t exist, I make the images myself using a combination of photography and photoshop. C-P: Some would think of pop art looking at your body of work but there’s actually meta references to pop art in parts of your work. Again there's also the title of your body of work which is also the title of this new exhibition to open at Kostya in Stockholm: MOMA BRA which also would appear a fun nod to art. G.B: Yes! One of things that comes up online is the idea of fan art, and I’m most interested in the fan art that takes famous artworks as its subject. A talented or skilled creator will make works drawing a line from their artistic skill to a famous work, to show aspiration, setting up a real high/low situation. And I like appropriating and embodying that spot myself, in a way that all painters are fans.
Gina Beavers Day Lip, 2022, Acrylic and foam on linen on panel 182.88h x 182.88w x 33.02d cm, photo by Charles Benton © the artist. Courtesy of Carl Kostyál, London, Stockholm
C-P: What’s next for you in 2023? G.B: My work will be in a couple museum group exhibitions and I will have a solo presentation in Belgium in the fall. I also have a sculpture edition with All Rights Reserved shipping soon. Ideawise I’m looking at a lot of abstraction for ideas for tutorials and looking towards the work of artists like Jay DeFeo and Lee Bontecou who were making abstractions in relief in earth tones while pop art was ascendant in the 60's... more fangirl art from me dropping soon!
Gina Beavers, MOMA BRA, October 21 - November 13, Carl Kostyál, Hospitalet, Stockholm