“I quite like this contrast between classical, figurative, and contemporary art. That’s why I paint portals. It has to do with time travel and imagining somewhere else.”
Thorn lake, 2022, Oil on linen 127 x 157 cm © The Artist
Adrian Gardner explores the meaning of life, mortality and adventure through the use of vibrant, colourful landscape paintings. Gardner draws inspiration from artists throughout history such as Titian, Francis Bacon and Damien Hirst who have used painting as a way to express the meaning of life and death. Gardner’s use of figurative landscape painting and geometric abstraction create a body of work that explores the impermanence of life and the beauty of nature.
Colour plays an important role to create fantastical, dream-like, surreal landscapes which reflect a childlike exploration, interaction and celebration in nature. A light, happy, pastel coloured scene elicits a joyful moment spent with friends and family. Gardner draws inspiration from contemporary painters like Jonas Wood and John McAllister and their use of flat, decorative and colourful applications of paint in a landscape.
Temps du loup / Hour of the wolf, 2023, Oil on linen, 110 x 90 cm © The Artist
In Gardner’s circular painting series, colour is used in purely abstract techniques, referencing artists from the colour field and op art movement such Kenneth Noland and Bridget Riley. In these works, circular stripes of colour radiate outward from a central miniature depiction of a greyscale mountain. Gardner refers to these circular paintings as “portals”, as if to say that by viewing them, we become transported to another place and time through a hypnotising radiation of colour.
Gardner exhibits the circular portal works in parallel with larger landscapes. The result of these pairings is a play between colour, movement and our perspective and entrance into the landscape, and ultimately Gardner’s reflection on the human psyche and our impermanence in life. Being cognisant of his personal struggles dealing with genetic diseases passed down in his family and a rebellious youth filled with hardships, painting has become a way for Gardner to express his celebration and gratefulness of life as a father and artist.
The figures depicted are people in Gardner’s personal life, whereas the landscapes are sometimes fictitious or drawn from an image archive. The result is a positive reminder to embrace the moment, celebrate life with family and friends, reflect on the beauty of nature, whether real or imagined as a way to remind us of our interconnectedness and mortality.
– Kelly Foster, Curator