Gisele Gardner, 23, has been painting for seven years. A past student of the Edna Manley College, she has also obtained a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate and Studio Diploma from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She specializes in oil paints and figurative imagery, and has been featured in numerous exhibitions, local and international.
My work is predominantly based in themes of identity, escape, and the opposing natures of disgust and intrigue. Beginning with a love of portraits, bodies and faces, I have since turned to more unconventional topics of focus, meat, flesh, bones and teeth, as a way of stripping our identity down. I have also recently used these elements to create more abstract terrain, exploring others’ reactions to these aspects of ourselves.
More enduring than fingerprints: dental records are just as unique but they tend to reveal much more about the person they belong to. They reflect our lifestyles, our age and – depending on options available for care – our social status as well. The views that confront us within Gisele Gardner’s paintings are familiar yet surprisingly intimate because of the subject matter: the mouth. There is a sense of unease that is created from looking at the imperfections she depicts, despite the fact that they speak to the very individuality of a person. But why do they disturb us so? Is it the vulnerability that comes from scrutiny? Or is it our roles as seeming voyeurs violating a privacy that creates this sense of unease?
Closed mouths can be a wall, we do not know and can therefore more easily ignore what lies beneath. We can remain complacent and unwilling to move outside of our comfort zones by our decisions to disengage from the uncomfortable. These mouths however do not allow us to retreat; they are wide open challenging our unwillingness to engage. We are pushed until faced with cavernous scenes, grotesqueries that are both alien and disconcerting familiar. Will you look away from the nightmare or will you be brave enough to face it?