Nick Gentry in Cheese! Konbini

Meet Nick Gentry: Sublime paintings made with photographic equipment

by Donnia Ghezlane-Lala

Halfway between painting and sculpture, hybrid works of Nick Gentry exploit the photographic material as a full art.

Nick Gentry , complete artist wields the brush as well as the chisel and the camera. Hybrid, his work meets a set of portraits he painted, often representing women, known and unknown. He completed each of his works with photographic equipment that cuts and assembles. The pieces of film and negatives and become a creative field for his paintings, he operates in background fills.

In an interview with this artist open mind, we asked him to talk about his inspirations and values, of film photography in the digital age, but also social networks and its most dreams crazy. Meet a man full of imagination.

Cheese | Can you introduce yourself ? What is your background?

Nick Gentry | I spend most of my time painting portraits, but I do not define myself as only a painter. I always want to adapt and evolve with time. I studied at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London, and although it was rewarding and trainer, yet I consider myself a self-taught. I think the most important lessons come from elsewhere, at different times of our lives, away from the pressure and formality of the academic environment.

How would you define your work?

I prefer not to define my work, or things in general. My feeling is that as soon as something is defined and categorized, it may lose the rawness that made it interesting at first. For now, I am happy to embrace the mystery and let the viewer interpret my work as he wants.

Can you name us your references and your inspirations? 

I absolutely inspires all. Nothingness might even be a source of inspiration for me. Normally, the more your sources of inspiration are far from the art, the better. There are already too many arts which inspire artists. When there are references, that's fine, but be careful not to repeat what has already been done. I am interested in many different things like yoga, gastronomy, technology, film, travel, literature, nature, and I just put me on the piano.

It is important to push the limits of the mind in other directions and feeding the other things.Leonardo understood it well. It is probably the biggest sources of inspiration: I love the way he simply experiences the nature and life. It then describes all these artistically and personally through unique shapes, varied and incredible.

What is the moment that you prefer in the creation of a project?

In the creation process, each stage is different and good. But the one I like best is finishing the last details. This has something satisfactory, if all goes as planned, of course! What I like are the little moments that punctuate a realization. For me, there is no better time than these little "waves of consciousness."

Your approach is very creative because you used photographic equipment for a different art form: painting. How did you get this idea?

I observed how photography changed during the digital revolution we are experiencing. Of course, these technological developments have implications for the whole world, but I feel that photography is at the origin of this change. When looking Instagram, we note that 100 million photos and videos are shared every day on this platform. It is a process and a scale that are so large and so fast that it seems unimaginable. Is what you can imagine him telling you what will happen in the world of photography to someone who lived twenty years ago? Is it that we can understand and think about what is beyond our understanding?

The development and sharing of photography could be one of the largest ever known cultural levers, and we barely just entered this new era. So from a historical point of view, get rid of dandruff and modest negative could be the act of destruction of a simple plastic obsolete. But I, in my work, I see them as sources of information and blocks of color. I can transform them and give them a new life, make them strong and new films by assembling parts forgotten, neglected and disparate.

What types of materials do you use?

I collected all kinds of negatives in large and medium formats, films of the early 20th century to the iconic reel of 35 mm that could be found in the 1980 and 1990. I also use dandruff 8 mm and 16 mm, and microfilm. All materials are sent to me by strangers: bound by this approach, we build together something unique.

Why you add all these negative to your paintings? Not enough they not? Does it add something special that your paintings can not express?

I think the combinations are a power and a unique mode of expression. Nothing can exist in sufficient unto itself. I want to explore and celebrate the links between the arts together, not what separates them. In a sense, these associations provide a reason to exist dandruff. They are abstract and can decrypt only approaching. From a distance, they change completely in shape and find their meaning in each portrait.

What do you think of the silver photo (digital opposition)? By using films, do you want to pay tribute to the photographic tradition or perpetuate the use?  

I'm not trying to convey a message; I must remain neutral to let the viewer imagine what he wants and think about his own interpretations and feelings about the work. I do not want to "contaminate" his experience by saying too much. I love silver formats, they have something real, tangible, you can feel and hold in your hands. Although sometimes what you will, it is the binary sequences of 1 and 0, and speed: in a word, digital.

What do you think of all these applications dedicated to photography (Instagram, VSCO, etc.)? Do they distort photographic art by you, or are they a good thing? How do you use social networks to your artistic practice?

I use Instagram  to share my work with the greatest number of people and face the harsh reality: most people discover my miniature art on Instagram account rather than a gallery. I think that artists must now get used to the challenge of multi-format. People's attention is reduced, subtle works that take some time for contemplation are neglected in favor of more obvious pictures to understand and use.

We must make sure not to prefer quantity to quality. The algorithm is now set by the committee, which tends often to promote the impact and virality in minimal time. Celebrity fifteen minutes raised at the time by Andy Warhol seems to have now shortened to 15 milliseconds.

Are there any guideline, themes or values eturn in each of your projects?

What haunts me is time. It is a concept that we do not understand completely. I am not speaking of the needle that moves but the actual essence of time that passes, the feeling of change. Everyone thinks about his life and the time he has left. This mysterious awareness is something that makes humans unique. So in a way, I try to understand these fundamental questions: who we are and how we operate our time of existence.

What is the craziest project you like to do some day you would have liked to do?

I love what JR with photography. It is bold and intelligent. People around the world can relate and gravitate to his work. It really captures the times in which we live, by integrating the fact that people want to see themselves through art.

Some artists have they recently attracted your attention?

I recently discovered  Conor Harrington , Adam Neate , James Cla r and Robert Del Naja (the founding member of the group Massive Attack , editor's note ).

upcoming projects?

I have just been exposed to C24 Gallery in New York. I'm back in London and I plan to do another show next year. In terms of new prospects, I already have a few collaborations in mind.