Paintings in A Room

Paintings in A Room

James Gardner

From March 4th to March 27th
Opening March 4th, 2011 from 7-10pm

Gardner’s recent work stems from a critical evaluation of the relationship between the surface of a painting and the support on which it is painted. As a result of tradition, economy and utility, the supports used for paintings generally adhere to given conventions resulting in constructions that are often formulaic and lack creative investment. Gardner noticed this gulf between the two physical necessities of a painting when I was painting on wood panel and adding the support after the surface was complete. Not only did Gardner spend less time and mental energy on the support, but the support also became a standard that I could tack onto any surface painted. The support had no intrinsic relationship to the surface it upheld and was chosen only out of an aesthetic and traditional convention that felt culturally inherited. The paintings Gardner have been working on for the last three years allow for the support of a painting to be given as much time and energy as the surface, as well as allowing the image to play and active roll in determining what the support will look like and vice versa. The painted constructions, as a result, become unified objects and are able to straddle the line between pictorial space and sculptural space.

The Paintings in a Room series consists of five paintings completed from 2008-2010. Based on photographic research of various floors and walls of commercial and public galleries, the various hard wood and wall motifs represented act as signifiers for the various sites where artworks are viewed, while the ‘paintings’ depicted serve as caricatures of abstract paintings. The work in this series aims to emphasize the cultural/social/institutional package that comes from looking at art objects within these contexts and the subsequent affect this has on viewers. A work of art is not seen autonomously. The space the viewer inhabits while viewing the works comes with a set of ideologies and a guise of visual culture that formulates the viewer’s reading of art objects. Furthermore, on a more experiential level, these works also call attention to the role that the physical environment plays in the viewing of a given piece of art: the colour of the floor, the light, the hue of the viewers clothing, the angle of viewing, and so on, all effect the way a work of art is understood optically and cognitively. The ‘paintings’ depicted in the Paintings in a Room series must be viewed within the specific ‘room’ depicted in the pieces, acting as index for this relationship between viewer, space, and art object.