Roberta Gentry’s paintings are modestly-scaled gems that begin on a gridded ground and extrapolate outward into self-described “impossible structures.” Every composition is—obsessively—symmetrical. As an abstract practitioner, Gentry is on the Agnes Martin side: she doesn’t like disorder in any form. She gains great satisfaction from creating paintings with as little painterly incident as possible, accumulating crisply taped modules of color in a process that eschews, as she puts it, “messes or surprises.”
Her latest series results from an abstract alphabet she invented in graduate school, a symbol system that referred to meaning but remained stubbornly alien and indecipherable. With titles like Anchor, Balloon and Chalice, this new work still refers tangentially to that alphabet. Visually, they seem to flirt with anthropomorphic forms that have a distinctively sci-fi vibe. Balloon (2017) resonates in particular, with its dark, matte voids simulating a robotic mask. It resides in a shadowy zone between analog and digital aesthetics.
Gentry is also planning sculptures to accompany her paintings for her next exhibition, a series of articulated wooden beads, and long staffs that are installed floor-to-ceiling (think Brancusi meets a stripper pole.) She cuts these totems on her studio lathe—the ultimate tool for an artist fanatical about symmetry. More info at www.robertagentry.com.