In an uncertain and unpredictable world, the ability to prove something beyond doubt provided philosophers with a key to unlocking the mysteries of the universe. Geometry was a manifestation of the rules according to which the world was constructed (1). Scott Gardiner’s latest exhibition ‘Yield Point’ at Paul Nache Gallery, signals a new direction for the artist. While the prevailing aesthetic of Gardiner’s recent work still fits comfortably within his oeuvre, there have been significant developments with respect to subject matter and process. Gone are the simplified and abstracted motorway overpasses that formed the prevailing motif of previous years, in their place we see an array of coloured forms that create internal structures within the paintings. These structures allude to engineering principles while also referencing the foundations of geometry upon which our systems of logic and mathematics are based. Gardiner’s decision to introduce new methods of production via the use of modern printing technologies, allows the artist to examine modes of representation and their influence on the reading of an image while also questioning the relationships between labour/value and process/meaning that have underpinned the artists practice. “I became suffocated by an unyielding fixation on labour and process. It got to the point where the labour began to define the work and the image became almost secondary to the process. I felt it was important to turn that around and have the ability to experiment with scale, new media and techniques. (2). The new compositions are painted atop deliberately ambiguous renderings of breaking waves and tumultuous whitewater. The visual appeal of Gardiner’s paintings resides in this contrast between the solid, linear structures and ephemeral, soft forms of waves and sea. The juxtaposition of these elements evokes both the timelessness and serenity of nature as well as the rapid change and industrial expansion that is defining our times. The combination of these opposing elements acts as a metaphor for humanities relationship with the natural world. A relationship buckling under the weight of modern civilisation as we seek to impose our will on the planet. Yield Point: The stress at which a material begins to deform plastically. Prior to the Yield Point a material will deform elastically and will return to its original shape when the stress is removed. Once the Yield Point is passed, some fraction of the deformation will be permanent and non-reversible. (3) It is here that the connection between the structures and churning whitewater is made more evident, as a dialogue begins to form between these two opposing forces. The forms appear to dominate the paintings, suffocating the more subtle, monochromatic images of moving ocean that lye beneath. This action mirrors that of a society that has spent the past hundred years attempting to impose it’s will on the world. What we have begun to learn however, is that nature will always have the last say and a century of deforestation, rapid urbanisation and industrial pollution will expedite the onset of climatic conditions not suitable for contemporary society. Not to mention the unsustainable depletion of resources needed to maintain the global population.
With this in mind see a more subtle strategy begin to appear in Gardiner’s work. The colours used for these structures do not reflect the built environment but rather the natural world. Blues of the sea and sky, warm apricots and oranges of the dawn and sunset dominate, rather than the washed-out greys of the urban landscape. We are reminded that the built environment we inhabit, which appears so solid and permanent, is as fleeting as a breaking wave, as impermanent as a sunset. If our species were to disappear it would not be long before all traces of our civilisation was reclaimed by the land and ground to dust by the relentless forces of wind and water. Rather than a ‘call to arms’ or a vehement political statement, Gardiner’s paintings instigate an inquiry on mortality, a subtle musing on the meaning of life and death. The artists primary concern seems less about raising awareness of an issue and more about investigating what he perceives as a change in ‘meaning’ around death in the face of potential climatic upheaval. “We all know we are going to die, and while this is a fact not altogether cherished we eventually come to the understanding that we are a small part of some thing much larger than ourselves, an endless cycle of life and death. However, if this cycle was doomed to cease and the end of civilisation nigh, how would that alter our sense of self and the meaning of life as we see it?” (4).
1. Addis, B. (2007). Building: 3000 years of design engineering and construction, p.23 London/New York: Phaidon Press Ltd. 2. Gardiner, S. (2014, May 15). In conversation. Interviewed by Ria Camp, Gisborne, New Zealand. 3. Yield Point definition. Wikipedia. Retrieved May 15, 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yield_ %28engineering%29#Definition 4. Gardiner, S. (2014, May 15). In conversation. Interviewed by Ria Camp, Gisborne, New Zealand.
Effective Stress, 2014 Direct to fabric, pigment ink print and acrylic on loose canvas 150 x 150cm
Axiom (Ultramarine), 2014 Direct to fabric, pigment ink print and acrylic on canvas 106 x 157cm
Axiom (Dawn), 2014 Direct to fabric, pigment ink print and acrylic on canvas 101.5 x 125cm
Yield Point, 2014 Direct to fabric, pigment ink print and acrylic on canvas 115 x 110cm
Principle Stresses, 2014 Graphite, acrylic and matt varnish on paper on board 54 x 67cm
Relative Truths (diptych), 2014 Coloured pencil, acrylic and matt varnish on paper on board 54 x 67cm ea.
Studies, 2014 Acrylic on paper Dimensions vary
Scott Gardiner (b.1975) graduated with a Master of Visual Arts with Honours in painting from the Auckland University of Technology. He has been a multiple finalist in the Wallace Art Awards as well as the 2012 New Zealand Painting and Printmaking Award. His work has been exhibited and held in private and corporate collections throughout New Zealand, Australia and the United States including the Sir James Wallace Arts Trust. http://www.scottgardiner.co.nz http://www.paulnache.com/scott-gardiner
YIELD POINT Scott Gardiner PAULNACHE Gisborne New Zealand +64 6 867 9721 email@example.com paulnache.com
Design: Jody Ure, Matt Nache Photography: Phil Scott, Matt Nache Text: Ria Camp PAULNACHE Publishing ÂŠ 2014 ISBN: 978-0-473-29131-0
9 780473 291310