Nick Gentry, at the Collective Memory exhibition in Miami
29 May 1980 |
London, England, UK
|Education||Central St Martins College of Art and Design|
|Known for||Painting, Collage, Found Object, Social Art, Environmentalism|
|Notable work||Design of Desire, Digital Montage Number 3', BIOS|
Nicholas James Gentry (born 29 May 1980) is a British artist from London. Much of his artistic output has been generated with the use of contributed artefacts and materials. He states that through this process "contributor, artist and viewer come closer together". His art is influenced by the development of consumerism, technology, identity and cyberculture in society, with a distinctive focus on obsolete media.
Drawing on recycled and obsolete technological materials as the grounds for his paintings, London-based artist Nick Gentry creates a conversation between digital and analog processes. Gentry constructs his painting supports out of materials such as film negatives, VHS cassettes, X-rays, and floppy disks. “These objects are no longer in the spotlight,” the artist has said of floppy disks, “but by placing them there for a second it becomes easier to comprehend the speed and extent of the changes that are taking place today.”  Gentry often incorporates elements of these materials into his figures. The magnetic circles of floppy disks, for example, often serve as eyes in his portraits.
Such artistic works of social commentary have been featured in galleries in the UK, USA and in cities throughout the world. His work has been exhibited alongside established contemporary Young British Artists Mark Quinn, Damien Hirst, and Tracey Emin and also with notable street artists, such as Banksy, Shepard Fairey and Blek le Rat. As a result he has been linked with both the Contemporary art and Urban art scenes in London.
Nick Gentry was born in Hampstead, London and grew up in the nearby historic market city of St Albans. From an early age he spent much of his childhood drawing and sketching. He attended Parmiter's School in Garston, Hertfordshire and during a troubled time he came close to being expelled on numerous occasions. He continued to study art at Ridge Street Art School and the University of Hertfordshire. During this time he was inspired by a visit to the famous Sensation (art exhibition) at the Royal Academy of Art, signalling the arrival of the Young British Artists. He was later refused admission to Liverpool College of Art when he first applied, but attended the college after a subsequent successful application a year later. From there he progressed to successfully graduate from Central Saint Martins in London in 2006.
Film Negative and X-ray Artworks
A series of portraits created from used film negatives and X-rays which have been contributed by members of the public. The negative selection process is based on tone and by layering the film he creates the contrast and shape of the faces. Gentry has also used X-rays for the darker tones, noticeably in the hair section of the images which are back lit with LED. The use of these materials alludes to a collective identity that can be viewed from both emotional and biological perspectives. He observes that "today we go to great lengths to create a digital identity in addition to the actual lives we live, with the belief that these online records are only growing in importance and will outlive us".
Floppy Disk Paintings
A series of Generation X portraits on canvases made from used computer disks, whose metal hub serves as the subject's profoundly un-humanlike eye. Adding to his haunting renderings are the handwritten labels, along with the disks' original blue, black, or grey colour contributing to the composite form. The disks are sourced entirely from public donation and this series represents Gentry's first foray into what has been described as 'social art'.
Sculptures and Public Displays
From 29 June until 6 September 2015 a specially commissioned sculpture  by Gentry was publicly displayed in the Barbican Centre in London. Inspired by the Nucleic acid double helix form, a series of 21 giant sculptures were customised by artists and designers including Ai Weiwei and Zaha Hadid. The sculptures were auctioned at Christie's on 30 September 2015 to raise funds for Cancer Research UK and to help complete the construction of the Francis Crick Institute, a new biomedical research facility at London’s King’s Cross.
Little is known about the street activity of Gentry. In earlier years before gallery representation the artist would often leave paintings in the streets for passers-by to pick up as gifts. This 'free art' practice draws comparison to the early activity of fellow London-based artist Adam Neate, challenging the notion of art as a commodity and its worth in society.
In 2010 Gentry's first show took place in a small studio space in Soho, London at Studio55 Gallery. The show was titled Auto-Emotion and consisted of a series of floppy disk portraits. At the end of the year, Gentry took up a two month art residency at Pantocrator Gallery in Barcelona, Spain. The residency culminated in a solo exhibition and live performance by Petra Flurr and Lola Von Dage.
In 2011 Gentry had his first solo exhibition in the USA at Robert Fontaine Gallery in Miami. Later that year Gentry had a solo exhibition at Whisper Gallery in London, titled Dataface. Selfridges featured a pop-up show of Gentry's works, titled Artefacts. Members of the public were invited to donate their obsolete technology to contribute to future artworks by the artist.
In 2012 Gentry took part in a large scale urban art group show titled Urban Masters, in an East London warehouse. This was followed by a second solo show at Robert Fontaine Gallery titled Collective Memory.
In 2013 a group show titled The Many Faces of David Bowie took place at Opera Gallery in London, UK. Gentry created a replica of Bowie's red Fender guitar using original film negatives of David Bowie, although it remains unknown if the negatives were contributed by Bowie himself. This was followed by a third solo exhibition at Robert Fontaine Gallery in Miami. The show was titled X-Change, heavily featuring the film negative and x-ray works for the first time.
In 2014 Gentry appeared in the BBC Two documentary Making Art Work. Sitting in his studio surrounded by his artwork, Gentry explains how he re-uses outdated technology to create his artwork. He references inspiration by Marcel Duchamp and old footage of Duchamp’s work of a urinal is shown. He explains that Duchamp placed this object in a gallery and called it art, therefore artists should not be restricted by materials such as canvas but feel free to re-use materials. In November Gentry had a fourth solo exhibition at Robert Fontaine Gallery titled Synthetic Daydreams which consisted of works using 35mm film negatives. Gentry also took part in his first group show in New York at C24 Gallery. The show was titled YELL-O and also featured the work of Hellbent (J. Mikal Davis), Adele Mills and Ekaterina Panikanova. Gentry's work featured for the first time in Hong Kong at the group exhibition Urban Renewal at Opera Gallery alongside artists Seo Young-Deok, Olivier Dassault and Yves Krief.
In April 2015 Gentry had his first solo exhibition in Knokke, Belgium at Absolute Art Gallery. The show was titled Memoryscapes and featured a series of the lightbox film negative works. From 29 June until 6 September a specially commissioned sculpture by Gentry was publicly displayed in the Barbican Centre in London. The sculptures were auctioned at Christie's on 30 September 2015 to raise funds for Cancer Research UK and to help complete the construction of the Francis Crick Institute, a new biomedical research facility being built at London’s King’s Cross.
In the summer of 2016 Gentry had his debut New York solo show at C24 Gallery. The exhibit, which marked his debut with the gallery, explored human connectedness, remembrance and nostalgia within the unrelenting, digitally oversaturated world of the present. The works, which mostly feature ethereal humanlike subjects, are constructed from sourced materials made by donors from around the globe that piece together a psychologically compelling narrative of human solidarity. In November and December Gentry's work was exhibited alongside a selection of rare works by Young British Artists Mark Quinn, Damien Hirst, and Tracey Emin at Opera Gallery in London. The show, titled 'BritARTnia' also presented the work of internationally established artists such as Julian Opie of the New British Sculpture movement; celebrity photographer and recipient of the Royal Photographic Society's Centenary medal Terry O'Neill (photographer) and Royal Academician and Turner Prize nominee sculptor David Mach.
Books by Nick Gentry
- Psychic Compound by Paul Laster and Nick Gentry, 2016
- Synthetic Daydreams by Nick Gentry, 2014
- Collective Memory by Nick Gentry, 2013
- Artefacts by Nick Gentry, 2011
- Obsolete by Nick Gentry, 2010
Books featuring Nick Gentry
- Artaq 2011, Editions Suty, 2011
- "Nick Gentry: an artist who uses floppy disks, cassettes and VCR tapes to make pictures". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2 February 2010.
- "Shit We're Diggin: The Art of Nick Gentry". The Wooster Collective. Retrieved 2 October 2011.
- Emocling, Erin. "New Art / Nick Gentry". Lost At E Minor. Lost At E Minor. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
- "NICK GENTRY, A FLOPPY DISK ARTIST". Juxtapoz. Juxtapoz. Retrieved 25 January 2011.
- "britARTnia exhibition". artrabbit.com. Retrieved 25 November 2016.
- "Exhibition preview: Urban Masters". The Evening Standard. 8 November 2012. Retrieved 8 November 2012.
- Jury, Louise (30 December 1997). "Royal Academy's `Sensation' proves to be a shockingly good crowd- puller". The Independent.
- Lindberg, Aaron. "Nick Gentry's Manipulated Film Artwork". F Stoppers. Retrieved 18 April 2013.
- Tsolaki, Magda. "Nick Gentry's 'Xchange' Exhibition". Delood. Retrieved 23 April 2013.
- McCorquodale, Amanda (23 August 2011). "Artist Nick Gentry Finds the Human Remains of Dead Technology". Miami New Times. Retrieved 21 November 2011.
- Benowitz, Shayne. "Artist Nick Gentry's 'Social' Media Brings Dead Technology Back To Life". Societe Perrier. Retrieved 9 April 2013.
- "London art trail sculpture gallery - What's in your DNA?". Cancer Research UK. Cancer Research. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
- "Artist to give away 1,000 works". BBC. 10 November 2008. Retrieved 10 November 2008.
- Suffocake. "Nick Gentry Exhibition at Studio55". The Daily Street. Retrieved 21 November 2011.
- Art Nectar. "Nick Gentry Exhibition 'Auto-Emotion' at Studio55/55DSL London". Art Nectar. Retrieved 21 November 2011.
- "Nick Gentry Auto-Emotion". Coolography. Retrieved 21 November 2011.
- Clemente, Laura. "Nick Gentry at Pantocrator Gallery". Pantocrator Gallery. Retrieved 21 November 2011.
- Mason, Shana Beth (29 August 2011). "Nick Gentry @ Robert Fontaine Gallery". Retrieved 21 November 2011.
- Newman, Martin (14 September 2011). "Nick Gentry's Dataface at Whisper Fine Art". The Mirror. Retrieved 21 November 2011.
- "Nick Gentry DATAFACE at Whisper Gallery Art Opening Thursday 15th September 2011". FAD. Retrieved 21 November 2011.
- Newman, Martin (2 July 2011). "Old media master Nick Gentry to create art installation in Selfridges". The Mirror. Retrieved 21 November 2011.
- "Exhibition preview: Urban Masters". Evening Standard. Evening Standard. Retrieved 8 November 2012.
- Fontaine, Robert. "Collective Memory". Robert Fontaine. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
- Miami Art Guide. "Robert Fontaine Gallery presents Nick Gentry's Collective Memory". Retrieved 9 July 2012.
- "The Many Faces of David Bowie exhibition". www.davidbowie.com. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
- Saati, Briana (1 April 2013). "Nick Gentry Brings Floppy Disks Back to Life at Robert Fontaine Gallery". Miami New Times. Retrieved 1 April 2013.
- "Synthetic Daydreams solo exhibition". www.artsy.net. www.artsy.net. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
- Badore, Margaret. "NYC gallery showcases art made with obsolete objects". http://www.treehugger.com. http://www.treehugger.com. Retrieved 16 July 2014. External link in
- Byung-Chae, Yu. "Urban Renewal at Opera Gallery". http://hk.asiatatler.com. http://hk.asiatatler.com. Retrieved 17 February 2014. External link in
- "Agenda". Absolute Art Gallery. Absolute Art Gallery. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
- Hernandez, Jasmin (2016-08-22). "Art ON!.. Nick Gentry uses obsolete technology to create emotionally vulnerable portraits". Retrieved 2016-09-20.
- "britARTnia". Artsy.net. Retrieved 25 November 2016.
- Edelist, Sydney (28 August 2011). "Nick Gentry Paints Art On Floppy Disks". Huffington Post Arts. Retrieved 28 August 2011.
- "X-ray vision: magical montages made from floppy disks and scans". https://www.theguardian.com/. 4 November 2014. Retrieved 29 March 2015. External link in
- Artaq, Yves. Artaq 2011. Editions Suty. p. 159. ISBN 978-2-9534253-2-1.
- Daily Telegraph: Nick Gentry, an artist who uses floppy disks, cassettes and VCR tapes to make pictures
- BBC Brasil: Artista transforma fitas cassete e disquetes em retratos
- Nick Gentry @ Robert Fontaine Gallery
- AOL On: Using floppy disks as art canvas
- Floppy disk e vhs: l'hi-tech retrò rivive nell'arte
- Floppy Disk Artwork: Obsolete technology makes a comeback
- Huffington Post: Nick Gentry Turns Obsolete Technology Into Beautiful Art
- Wooster Collective: The Art of Nick Gentry
- Interview, Nick Gentry: A Floppy Disk Artist
- 1800 Recycling: Dead Floppy Disks Reincarnated as Artistic Masterpieces
- Style/Vanity Fair Italy: La seconda vita degli oggetti quasi estinti
- Artnet: Nick Gentry
- Nick Gentry official website