December 9, 2020

Alex Gardner at The Hole

In Alex Gardner’s exhibit at The Hole, he departs from his signature black, faceless figures, into an all-blue color scheme that brings an almost Renaissance-like quality to his works.
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About the Exhibit - Blues 

Alex Gardner’s exhibit, Blues, is on view at The Hole from November 19th – December 27th, 2020. It's kind of crazy to me that this is only Gardner's second solo exhibit with The Hole since his works are so often features at their fair booths and beyond.

Alex Garnder

In this show, Blues, Alex Gardner takes an exciting departure from his characteristic all-black figures and introduced a new, all-blue color palette. I can’t think of a more appropriate exploration for 2020, I think we’re all feeling a little more ‘blue’ than usual. 

Alex Gardner
“With nine of the works completed since the onset of COVID-19—and one, distinctly, before the dawn of that now ever-present doom—BLUES telegraphs a shift in the artist’s psychology, a turn registering the discomfort of being bound to his studio as he watched the world change” - The Hole (source
Alex Gardner

In typical fashion for The Hole, they've transformed the gallery space into a minimal sanctuary, trimmed with neon blue light on the ceiling to cast a meditative glow on the works.

Alex Gardner
“Amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Gardner developed a new body of work that explores the discomfort of being bound to his studio through soft-hued compositions starring midnight-blue bodies in domestic spaces.” - Hypebeast (source
Alex Gardner
“While the show’s title hints at dejection, it also calls to mind a meditative state: the process of developing these new works was, in some ways, an attempt to self-soothe, conjuring a sense of calmness through their soft-hued scenes.” - The Hole (source
Alex Gardner

This is evident as I explored the exhibition, I couldn’t help but feel a feeling of calmness thanks to Gardner’s almost heavenly portrayal of humanity. There are pieces of humor sprinkled throughout, such as in the piece “Cheer Stunt” (below) which portrays an all-too-familiar (if you were ever a cheerleader) magnification of individuals attempting a cheer pyramid. 

Alex Gardner - Cheer Stunt

In contrast to how figurative paintings are traditionally created - with oil paint, Gardner uses acrylic to create his works. 

“The paintings presented in BLUES are acrylic, a departure from the conventional use of oil painting for figurative works. Gardner applied layers and layers of paint onto sanded gesso, saturating the surface of the canvas to produce a fresco-like texture.” - The Hole (source
Alex Gardner
“Although Gardner continues to champion the Black identity across his new works, the artist examines the concept of Blackness as a “kind of blankness” that encourages viewers to identify with the subject regardless of their race.”  - Hypebeast (source
Alex Gardner
“The paintings on view in BLUES are utterly personal yet thoroughly depersonalized. In this way, they are also generous: the avatars’ emptiness becomes an opening for hope, encouraging us to see what we share instead of dwelling on the ways that we differ.” - The Hole (source
Alex Gardner
“Even for all the apparent hopelessness and combativeness of the cultural moment from which they were produced, these works are evidence of cause to be hopeful: they animate empathy, patience, and affinity—encouraging self-awareness and enlivening the shared humanity that rests below the pedantry of identity politics.”  - The Hole (source

Video of the Exhibit

To see a walkthrough of the exhibit, skip ahead to 8:51 in the video below.

About the Artist - Alex Gardner 

Alex Garnder received a BFA from California State University in Long Beach. Lives and works in Long Beach, CA

Alex Gardner
“Alex Gardner is a figurative painter working in acrylic to make colorful canvases that smooth over cultural signifiers, featuring anonymized avatars that anyone can see themselves reflected in.” (source)
Alex Gardner

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