Roberta Gentry, Painter
“The components of my paintings are similar to tombstones, erected to signify the absence of something. It’s that absence that allows them to be individuals, to be new and freshly encountered.”
“Written language is inflexible, it effectively crystallizes a concept by setting it permanently into words. In my work, I seek to reverse this process, to begin with language or specificity and drive it back into obscurity. This manifests as various sets of modular shapes, abstracted from written language, which can be manipulated in response to the environment of the painting. The only content left in these shapes is the vague recognition that they somehow resemble written language in their organization and interrelationships.”
“Working with collections of individual shapes inevitably led to ideas of separation and compartmentalization. The compartments I use are either filled with collections of shapes, or they are so complex that they’ve rejected those populations.”
“For me, abstraction is mainly the act of reducing the specificity of something so that it communicates its basic nature in a more universal way. When emptied of inherent meaning and specificity, there is a great deal of freedom in abstraction. The act of assigning meaning is a top-down and immobilizing process, which is something I aim to avoid for the most part.”
*Text by Roberta Gentry. All images copyright Roberta Gentry.