Ginnie Gardiner: Scale and Intensity, by Carter Ratcliff

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There is something reassuring about a child’s stick figure. With a circle and a few lines, long and short, it reminds us that we are hard-wired to recognize the human presence. The trouble with a stick figure is that it has no convincing way of inhabiting its world. It takes an artist of Ginnie Gardiner’s brilliance not only to flesh out the figure but also to make it fully present in a particular place. I am tempted to say that in the collage entitled Spectator III, 2014, the artist’s image of herself merges seamlessly with its surroundings. But if this were literally so, she would be lost in the play of form and color. In fact, she is vividly perspicuous: the form around which those of furniture and architecture organize themselves.  Throughout this exhibition, we see Gardiner bringing the body into a relationship with its immediate world that is comfortable and ever so slightly unsettled. It is this latter quality that leads us to recognize her form not only as human but as intensely self-aware.

Because Gardiner layers her collage-elements, the images in these works often have palpable edges. The collages are more assertively physical than her paintings, which take an airy impalpability from the light that fills them. And the forms in her collages take on a virtual weightiness in the course of her adjustments and readjustments. In the two collage-studies for Purple Dress, the figure is nearly identical.

Purple Dress Variation ©2014 Collage 7.75" x 6".web

Purple Transitions ©2014 Collage 6.75" x 5.75".web

The chief differences between these two works are to be found in the stripes of color that signify with elegant economy the figure’s setting. In one study, these stripes run vertically, along the left-hand edge; in the other, they are horizontal and thus echo the upper edge of the collage. In the painting, from 2014, Gardiner opts for the vertical placement and she heightens the stripes’ color key with a salmon pink that heightens, in turn, the purple of the dress. All three variations are successful, with each displaying its own, precisely calibrated degree of spatial expansiveness.

Nearly always, the formal structure—and space itself—is more compact in the collages than in the paintings. The collages, of course, are smaller and yet that is not the entire explanation, for the details of Gardiner’s images acquire a charge of condensed pictorial power from having been developed and refined in the more intimate medium. Transposed to canvas, her images gain not only in size but in scale. They feel larger, more open. Yet they lose none of the intimacy or the intensity bestowed on them by their origins.

 

Carter Ratcliff

Equivalent Palettes

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‘Nearly always, the formal structure—and space itself—is more compact in the collages than in the paintings. The collages, of course, are smaller and yet that is not the entire explanation, for the details of Gardiner’s images acquire a charge of condensed pictorial power from having been developed and refined in the more intimate medium. Transposed to canvas, her images gain not only in size but in scale. They feel larger, more open. Yet they lose none of the intimacy or the intensity bestowed on them by their origins. ‘

-excerpt from ‘Space and Intensity’, by Carter Ratcliff, ©2016

‘Space is another central concern—but pictorial space, not realistic space. Though her current works seem and in some ways are representational, they’re not painted directly from life, nor do they aim to capture a moment in time. Gardiner works from collage maquettes, a technique she developed in the mid-‘90s so that she could combine photographs, swatches of color, painted fragments, bits of drawing, or anything else she liked, into a unified visual whole. A painting’s structure is determined before she sets brush to canvas, achieved by manipulating the various elements to get the precise arrangement she wants. She has no qualms about using digital technology to facilitate her process, or even to adjust colors; it’s simply another tool, in her mind, to serve the artist’s vision.
The process can take a while, which doesn’t worry Gardiner; she will sometimes spend months looking at a maquette and thinking, “This can’t be a painting yet.” ‘

-excerpt from ‘At Ease with Creation’ by Wendy Smith, ©2015

‘The most absorbing aspect of my studio practice is the translation of the collage study into the medium of oil paint – the creation of an ‘equivalent palette’  that is keyed to the larger scale of the canvas. This  involves, besides mixing pigments and making color adjustments as I develop the painting from the study, optical decisions concerning which pigment combinations will work together physically in ‘knitting together’ the oil paint surface on the canvas.’

Ginnie Gardiner, 2016

 

(CLICK  TO VIEW A LARGER IMAGE):

About New York ©1996 Collage 10” x 16″

 

About New York ©1996 Mixed Media Collage 10" x 16".web

 

About New York ©1996 Oil on Canvas 60” x 96” Diptych

 

About New York Diptych -300dpi

 

Is This the Place? ©1996 Collage 17.25″ x 7.75″

 

Is This The Place? ©1996 Collage 17.25" x 7.75"

 

Is This the Place? ©1996 Oil on Canvas 42″ x 96″ Diptych

 

Is This The Place? ©1996 Oil on Canvas Dyptych 42" x 96"

 

Hightide ©1997 Collage 10.5” x 18”

 

Hightide ©1997 Mixed Media Collage 10.5" x 18"

 

Hightide ©1999 Oil on Canvas 24” x 42”
Hightide ©1999 Oil on Canvas 24" x 42" Rubinstein

 

Opera Prima ©1999 Mixed Media Collage 14” x 11”

 

Opera Prima ©1999 Mixed Media Collage 14" x 11"

 

Opera Prima ©1999 Oil on Canvas 60” x 48”

 

Opera Prima ©1999 Oil on Canvas 60" x 48"

 

Journey ©1999 Collage 14″ x 11″

 

Journey ©1999 Mixed Media Collage 14" x 11" PZ collection

 

Journey ©1999 Oil on Canvas 60″ x 48″

 

Journey ©1999 Oil on Canvas 60" x 48"

 

 

Blue Corbels ©2011 Collage 6″ x 10″

 

Blue Corbels  ©2011 Collage 6.75" x 10"

 

Blue Corbels ©2011 Oil on Canvas 36″ x 60″

 

Blue Corbels ©2011 Oil on Canvas 36 x 60

 

La Farge ©2011 Collage 9″ x 5″

 

La Farge ©2011 Collage 9" x 5"

 

La Farge ©2011 Oil on Canvas 60″ x 40″

 

 

La Farge ©2011 Oil on Canvas 60 x 40

 

May ©2012 Collage 9″ x 6″

 

 

May ©2012 Collage 9" x 6"

 

May ©2013 Oil on Canvas 60″ x 40″

 

May  ©2013 Oil on Canvas 60 x 40 inches

 

 

August ©2012 Collage 9.3″ x 6.8″

 

August ©2012 Collage 9.3" x 6.8"

 

August ©2012 Oil on Canvas 60″ x 40″

 

August ©2011 Oil on Canvas 60 x 40 inches

 

Barometer ©2012 Collage 10.75″ x 7.3″

 

Barometer ©2012 Collage 10.75" x 7.3"

 

Barometer ©2012 Oil on Canvas 60″ x 40″

 

Barometer ©2012 Oil on Canvas 60" x 40"

 

April ©2012 Collage 6.4″ x 6.75″

 

April ©2012 Collage 6.5" x 6.75""

 

April ©2013 Oil on Canvas 24″ x 24″

 

April ©2013 OIl on Canvas 24" x 24"

 

Blue Stripe ©2014 Collage 8.25″ x 9.5″

 

Blue Stripe ©2014 Collage 8.25" x 9.5"

 

Blue Stripe ©2015 Oil on Canvas 40″ x 50″

 

Blue Stripe ©2015 OIl on Canvas 40" x 50"

The Self As Collaborator in Vision and Image, by J.W. Phillips

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Persian Muse ©2015 Oil on Linen 40" x 30".webPersian Muse ©2015 Oil on Linen 40″ x 30″

 

In Ginnie Gardiner’s art the self is in relation to the envelopment of the image or painting itself. The image and its abstract implications to which the self is interacting and subordinate is consistent and complete, intentional and selected. It is as deliberate at the alternative takes of a jazz variation.

The tradition of the self-portrait is, on a practical level, an outgrowth of the simple and practical truth that using one’s self is a practical tradition taking advantage of the most freely available model for every artist. We are always present to ourselves. “I is always the person always here.”

In similar passages of connubial practicality, our mate is the second most available, as demonstrated by Mrs. Bonnard (almost always ‘Madame’ in titles rarely ‘Marthe”), or Amélie Matisse.

But, convenience of the self for the artist also presents a fundamental question of consciousness in relationship to that self. It is a question more easily subordinated to live process when using a model other than oneself traditionally, because observation is less mitigated by the interactivity of observing oneself observing oneself. Photography, working from drawings (as Bonnard always did) and the distances provided by modern technology have both widened and closed that ontological expanse.

Beyond its ontological implications, the use of the self as a prop or model versus the use of the model as a projection of the self, is also the unique provenance of the artist. Cindy Sherman has explored one half of this trope and dress up and morphology has been her oeuvre. But, in Ginnie Gardiner’s art the self is in relation to not a costume but to the envelopment of the image or painting itself – the act of placement and imagery with the artist in the role of the knowing collaborator and manipulator. The mirror, the camera, and the image have merged in our world. In Gardiner’s art we are asked to enjoy that, in fact revel in its potential for discovery and re-contextualization of art, self, and painting.

-J.W. Phillips ©2016