N’Namdi Contemporary Fine Art will open its latest exhibition of Expressionist painter, Herbert Gentry entitled Rounded Friendship on October 13th, 2019.
Herbert Gentry an American artist, was born in 1919 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. As a young child, he and his mother moved to Harlem, finding themselves in the midst of the Harlem Renaissance. Thanks to his mother’s
career as a Savoy Ballroom beauty queen and dancer, he was nurtured in Sunday afternoon salons by the actors and musicians, writers and poets, and dancers of the decade.
These experiences molded his view of the world and as a result became his source of inspiration in the expressive figures you will see throughout the show.
Gentry was drafted during World War II where he served in the segregated 90th Coastal Artillery. Stationed outside of Paris at the end of the war, he first got to know the city on weekends. Released from the army and home in
Harlem, his next step became clear, He returned to Paris, France in 1946 on the GI Bill as a student of “French Literature.” He first enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts but finding it too stiff, he soon transferred to the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere. It was there where he evolved his experiences and interests as a painter.
During the late 1940s and early 1950s, Gentry opened a jazz club-galerie with his jazz singer wife, Honey Johnson, in the artist-quarter of Montparnasse, in Paris. The club, chez Honey, became an outlet for artists and musicians to collide, a melting pot for African Americans and European Americans to exchange in ideas. Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Lena Horne and Duke Ellington were some of the patrons of Chez Honey. Gentry attracted
the best in class.
As Gentry settled in France it allowed him to experiment and develop into the expressionist we know today. He continued to produce music and shows until his painting career could sustain him. In 1958, he expanded his base
with a studio in Copenhagen, by 1963 he had a studio in Gothenburg, and by 1966 settled in Stockholm, Sweden.
Gentry exhibited in Copenhagen, Geneva and Amsterdam to name a few. By 1971 Gentry returned to New York and traveled between Stockholm, Sweden and the Chelsea Hotel in New York City. In 1975 he was honored with a solo exhibition at the Kungliga Akademien (Royal Academy) in Stockholm, still a rare honor for a foreigner.
His career spans decades throughout Europe and the States. His impact to the abstractionist world is profound.
This exhibition is called Rounded Friendship, after the title of the Gentry gave his 1989 painting featured in the show.. It encapsulates the relationships and connections Gentry made through his career and the never ending impact
this Master painter has had on the history of abstract expressionism.
Gentry’s life could be a movie, born into the Jazz Age, memories of adolescences rooted in Harlem, uplifted by dynamite romances which led to beautiful offspring while being swept away with global exploration his subconscience of these people are all documented on linen. Gentry’s work will be everlasting.
Herbert Gentry died in Stockholm, Sweden in 2003.