In "Continued Comfort" Gina M. Contreras Explores Loss and Acceptance
Chefas Projects is delighted to present Continued Comfort, a solo exhibition by San Francisco-based painter Gina M. Contreras. Not only does this exhibit mark Contreras’ debut with the gallery, but it's also her first solo show outside of California. Uniquely rendered in stunning color and detail, her newest paintings examine the nature of loss and the feelings that remain after our loved ones have left us.
“In times of need we surround ourselves with others or objects that bring us comfort and familiarity. Continued Comfort is a series of paintings about letting go of the people you have lost, in life or in love, and accepting the grief and lust that lingers,” said Contreras of her latest exhibit.
Her intimate self-portraits evoke voyeurism minus the sexual connotation, baring soul and body through a mix of literal and symbolic imagery. Viewers are lured into the narrative of each painting but also the psychological sphere that Contreras unpacks. Interior scenes are set within the artist’s bedroom and we often find her forlorn alter-ego surrounded by items that bring her solace; a tiger blanket given to the artist by her mother, rosary beads, and a wall display of found objects styled in a similar fashion as her late Uncle.
When Contreras isn’t presented alone, she’s often accompanied by a recurring nude male figure. He's not a direct portrait, but an avatar of sorts who represents all the past loves in her life. In ‘Let It Call Me And Seek Me’, the devil, an angel, and the artist appear friendly with one another by holding hands, while the male figure struggles with the pain of a recent revelation. The only eyes on him are from the Virgin Mary painting that hangs on the wall. Thus begging the question: who’s breaking who’s heart?
Contreras’s paintings are rich in pattern, color, and meaning. Rose motifs on bedsheets, striped serapes, and Catholic images such as ‘Our Lady of Guadalupe’ honor the artist’s Mexican heritage. In ‘Keep Me For My Softness’, she wraps herself in the tiger blanket given to her by her Mom as if to provide warmth and security. The title offers multiple interpretations and forces the viewer to ponder whether the softness refers to the blanket, her mother, or Contreras’ own demure personality. Nothing is ever as simple as it seems in the transfixing world of Contreras's creation.