XChange by Nick Gentry

Obsolete disks and discarded negatives make for startling portraits at Robert Fontaine Gallery


“When you walk into a gallery, there’s a very sterile gap between you and the artwork. I want to close that gap—that’s my main mission as an artist,” says Nick Gentry. This weekend at Robert Fontaine Gallery in Miami’s Wynwood District, Gentry hopes that a series of works comprised of fan-sourced floppy disks and film negatives will do just that. A painter by training, Gentry decided to start making his own canvases with disks borrowed from friends. “The magic happened when people started to send things to me,” says Gentry. “I love it when there’s a connection between people who have never met before.”

Gentry’s color palette is largely determined by the material. Floppy disks colors—like the mobile app icons of today—were determined by a certain extent by fashion, which at the time meant plenty of blue, black and beige. In making the work Gentry is largely beholden to what he has in stock, which is in turn determined by what people send him. This collaboration, Gentry explains, is half the fun.

For the new negative series Gentry selected his images largely based on tone. By layering several negatives he is able to outline and shadow the features of his portrait subjects. X-rays were also used, creating a conversation between biological and interpersonal histories while also solving the problem of how to form the hair. Housing the negatives are English baking crates that date back to the 1930s, which have been lined with LED strips to create a light box.


Gentry’s exhibition, titled “XChange,” will run at Robert Fontaine gallery from 13 April 2013 through 4 May 2013. The weekend opening coincides with Wynwood Saturday Art Walk, which is a great way to get your bearings in the bustling art district.

Images courtesy of the artist