For "Guest Room, " Gardner has thought about the specificity of Gallery 109 at the SCAD Museum of Art and the way one navigates the space. With this in mind, each of the canvases becomes a portal or, in Gardner's words, a "hotel room you are opening, a vignette of an interpersonal interaction, a private moment you are glimpsing." His acknowledgment of the spectator is a critical point of the show. It opens questions about the negotiation between the strange and the familiar, and about the shared feelings within intimacy and hosting. It also suggests an interesting relationship, even an interchangeability, between figure and space. The spaces Gardner creates are close to what French philosopher Michel Foucault described as "heterotopias," or places that are elsewhere and that can represent several incompatible sites and times at once. For Foucault, these slices of time break traditional notions of space and time. That is precisely what Gardner’s paintings allow: intimate gestures of communication and proximity, frozen in front of us, in an undetermined space.
"Guest Room" offers a generous introduction to Gardner’s lexicon, and an opportunity for the audience to encounter a unique, expressive painting style. In a time where we are constantly reminded about our differences, Gardner’s ability to construct narratives outside the constricting limits of identity inspires broader forms of perception of what is otherwise rigid and unmovable.
This exhibition is part of SCAD deFINE ART 2019, held Feb. 26–28 at university locations in Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia.