LA-based painter Roberta Gentry is closing out a show this week at LADIES' ROOM: ‘We Need Mirrors’. The independent gallery features all female-identifying artists, and Gentry’s richly-layered surfaces and evocative palette have found their footing amongst the talented and diverse showcase regularly on offer.
Based on Stanislaw Lem's 1961 sci-fi novel, Solaris, and playing with anthropomorphism, the exhibit showcases forms fluidly morphing, echoing an array of geometric portals, crevices, and grids, reaching history and the unknown simultaneously.
We have no need of other worlds.
We need mirrors.
We don't know what to do with other worlds.
-- Stanisław Lem
Flaunt had the privilege to chat with Gentry about her show, her practice, and her future.
What is something you’ve learned about yourself this year?
I’ve learned that I really like gardening, and hate baking bread. There’s something so satisfying about a strong, healthy plant.
What about your practice has simplified lately? What about it has become more complex?
I think that one part of my practice that has gotten simpler is making sure I understand where the lights and darks of a painting are going to be before I start thinking about color. I know it sounds a bit like painting 101, but it ends up saving many headaches later on. More complex? The backgrounds behind the figures have become more complex, now that they respond and grow from the figure itself.
What about this particular show is special to you?
I’ve been very grateful for this show with LADIES' ROOM, especially since it was very uncertain whether or not it would happen at all, and then if it would end up being a show that people could actually experience in real life. It was an amazing feeling to finally see it in the space after dreaming about it for the better part of a year.
Your work is said to explore organization and systems of language and meaning making. What’s been organized by this current exhibition? What’s been dismantled?
My previous work was concerned with language, but more about the shapes of the Latin alphabet and how they could exist as forms. I was interested in the way that certain forms feel as though they have meaning, even if they don’t correlate to anything specifically. This current work definitely grew from that place in that it still investigates form and meaning attached to specific forms. But lately it’s much more an obsession with a bi-laterally symmetrical figure or structure that lives in an environment that is constructed to complement it.
What sort of music is on your list of frequented lately? Does music play a role in your practice?
I’ve been listening to Dolly Parton a lot lately. But I don’t really listen to music very often in the studio. There’s too much emotion involved in music—it can be distracting. I think that since art and music are so closely related, I find it difficult to be involved with both of them at the same time.
What are you most looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to continuing this work and seeing where it goes. I spend a lot of time planning but the exciting parts are always the unexpected results of all the planning.
Exhibition photos by: Paloma Dooley