Geoffrey Gersten | Jumping Off: Artist Reception: Thursday, March 4, 7-9pm

1 - 13 March 2021 Scottsdale

Solo Exhibition | Scottsdale, AZ


Altamira Fine Art Scottsdale is pleased to present a solo exhibit and debut show for Geoffrey Gersten, opening March 1.


Join us for an Artist Reception Thursday, March 4 from 7-9pm.


Jumping Off

My signature diving figure is based on a photo from 1952—an amazing find. Her form is exquisite; it’s extremely difficult to be graceful when you are hurling yourself through the air. This vintage image embodies the muscular grace of the sport. And the fact that she’s wearing a swimming cap makes her all the more beautiful. It creates a sleek silhouette. Sometimes I buy press photos with stamps of name, date, location. However I don’t have data on this image; it remains obscure, a snippet of a historical moment.


My last two shows were almost entirely black and white oil paintings. I kept having this intuitive yearning to add color. I always tell younger artists: approach your artwork with fifty percent planning and then leave fifty percent to intuition. If you apply one hundred percent planning, the result is static. One hundred percent intuition feels chaotic. The magic happens while you are working. A colleague of Winston Churchill’s once described his moments of intuition as a zig-zag streak of lighting in the brain.


Jumping Off is the first painting to incorporate the black-and-white figure with color in the background. It’s a visual representation of overcoming inhibitions. For me, I believe that every artwork is in some way a self-portrait. Jumping Off represents my struggle with color. I love the symbolism of being brave enough to take the leap, the plunge. Jumping Off also encapsulates this entire show: as my debut with Altamira, this suite feels like a jumping off together. All of painting and creation is an experiment. There’s the paradox of the fear and the terror of doing something different, but also the excitement of discovery. This show epitomizes that experimental mode. I’ve followed my intuition to come up with this series, to arrive at this place. Throughout my career, I’ve left room for inspiration. And juxtaposition. I love Dutch and Danish Old Master paintings—they’re impossible to recreate. On the flip side, I also love Jeff Koons—his audacious, ridiculous, bodacious, oversized confrontations. I love the stark contrast of these two genres. And I try to incorporate such opposites in my work by juxtaposing traditional approaches to painting with more abstract expressionist mark-making. My paintings celebrate the paradox of embracing experimentation while simultaneously being terrified of change.


When I was a kid, my mom gave me a black-and-white Life photograph of a little boy standing on a porch. The screen door is closed, but the door is open. You can just make out a woman’s figure inside, perhaps a grandmother. The boy’s hand is tucked behind his back, holding a rose. The picture was titled, Boy with Flower. Going back to idea of every painting as a self-portrait. I put a rose in each painting as a romantic symbol, a hope for love, for the ephemeral search. Sometimes the imaginary is what keeps us going. Like Captain Ahab standing on the bow, searching for the white whale. I recognize that dream chasing carries some negative aspects; even so, I’m a hopeless romantic. As I view my own work, I can’t help thinking that I have become Boy With Flower.


In Jumping Off, the rose behind her feet happened by accident. Right after painting her black and white, and starting to experiment with color, I moved that canvas aside and accidently bumped another painting and scuffed the canvas. Crud, I said to myself, dreading the repair. But when I examined it, I realized the scratch arced like a stem and ended in a scuzzy blob that reminded me of a rose. So I painted it in. I never planned to include a flower, to randomly introduce this romantic symbol. I loved the rose so much I began putting one into each of my diver paintings. Collectors always notice the rose and ask, “What does it mean?” Statistically, the rose takes up a tiny part of the canvas, and yet, it’s what draws people in and allows them to connect beyond the surface level.


My beginning with anything that looked like art was not intended to be art. In school, I hated the structure of school, but I loved geometry; messing around with shapes was the only thing that piqued my interest. After school, I worked for Honeywell and then Boeing doing CAD drafting. But after two years, I felt bored and unfocused so I quit. Within a few years, I saw an old image inside an encyclopedia. I was looking for the word “electrolysis” and, while flipping through the pages, came across “etching” with its accompanying picture of a copper plate and the print being pulled from it. It looked like a typical drafting drawing, with which I was so familiar, had been shuffled. All of the lines were out of place, creating something entirely new and different—a work of art. This was my eureka moment in life. I was in my mid-twenties and had never painted before. But in that moment, I suddenly realized that my interest in geometry and my interest in CAD all hinged on design. So I just started painting. Those early canvas were total chaos, but I loved painting so much so I just kept going. I pulled my hair out for 10 years, educating myself, learning over time. I didn’t know what I was doing, didn’t know good from bad. I persevered. Now, it feels like a miracle that it’s worked.


Pre-sales available. Contact, or call (480) 949-1256 for details.