Stripping the Gloss from Digital Beauty - the paintings of Gina Beavers
Updated: Oct 17, 2018
Artist Gina Beavers creates paintings and installations based on images from social media, dedicated to portraying expressions of beauty that pervade the internet. However, Beavers's perspective on these images is left up to the viewer's interpretation. Somewhere in between critique and affection for social media and expressions of beauty online, there is a dark and meandering sense of decay present in her paintings.
Far from mimicking the flawless digital surface of the images that make up her inspiration, Beaver builds her paintings up thickly, reversing the glossing effect of photography. To achieve a relief-like quality, acrylic is painted on top of a layer of acrylic composite. When pumice, beads, and other media are added into the layers, the paint becomes three-dimensional. The paint bulges from the canvas, caked with textures that give the subjects back some of the clunky physicality that the camera strips away. The lashes, eyes, skin, and the creases in the lips are textured to magnify and put emphasis on the unappealing build up of tacky mascara and powder.
Sharon Mizota from the Los Angeles Times believes that "Beavers's paintings pointedly mimic the act of putting on makeup, reminding us that it is something like sedimentation, built up layer by layer. There is no effortless glamour here, only sticky accretion."
Beavers asks us to consider duality of the makeup industry: The industry allows us to attain the image of beautiful as is defined by society and reinvent who we are, while feeding off our insecurity to thrive. With her paintings, Gina Beavers challenges the traditional relationship between women and beauty, and disputes the nature of our interactions with social media.
The overload of detail and the highly saturated compositions comment on the instantly gratifying, provocative world of social media. On one hand, the grossly exaggerated paintings point to the gluttony and lust that constantly pervades the internet. On the other, Beaver seems to almost appreciate these expressions of beauty and longing - after all, she used them as inspiration to begin with.
The ambiguity of her message exposes the fact that social media is a double edged sword. Gina Beavers asks: Are these intensely beautiful images shaping our world in ways that we do not desire?