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Currently on view at Stephanie Chefas Projects in Portland, Oregon is artist Gina M. Contreras’s solo exhibition, “Continued Comforts.”

Gina M. Contreras’s latest exhibit, “Continued Comfort,” features a series of paintings exploring the process of letting go of lost loved ones and coming to terms with the lingering grief and desire. Her intimate self-portraits, devoid of sexual connotations, expose both her soul and body through a combination of literal and symbolic imagery. The paintings draw viewers into not only the narrative but also the psychological realm that Contreras delves into. Interior scenes are set in her bedroom, often featuring her melancholic alter-ego surrounded by comforting objects, such as a tiger blanket from her mother, rosary beads, and a wall display reminiscent of her late uncle.

Contreras’s paintings are rich in pattern, color, and meaning, with elements that honor her Mexican heritage. When she isn’t alone in her paintings, she is accompanied by a recurring nude male figure representing past loves. These captivating works compel viewers to ponder the relationships and emotions depicted, as well as the artist’s own experiences. Born in Fresno, California, Contreras explores the complexity of traditional and cultural standards through her self-portraits, bridging her conventional Chicana upbringing with modern lowbrow culture. A graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute, her work has been exhibited worldwide and is part of the Crocker Museum’s permanent collection in San Francisco, where she was awarded the 2022 John S. Knudsen prize.

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