Canadian artist Alex Garant’s “double-eyed” portraits, featured here on our blog, have become instantly recognizable for the dizzying effect they create. Her style of overlaying her subject’s features like eyes and lips produces multiple images that are captivating but admittedly, also challenging to look at; for some, her works create phantom images, and even the feeling of being intoxicated.
To Garant, the vibrancy created by the double exposure is more than just an optical illusion. Over three years ago, the artist experienced a sort of creative epiphany when she had a heart attack as the result of a random viral infection. It was a real “wake up call,” she says, and in many ways, the “vibrating” look of her art is like a fragile heart beat.
Her new series of portraits, titled “Wakefulness”, is inspired by how our brains enter into a state of consciousness when we wake up. Wakefulness is a daily recurring brain state in which an individual is conscious and engages in coherent cognitive and behavioral responses to the external world such as communication, ambulation, eating, and sex. The longer the brain has been awake, the greater the spontaneous firing rates of cerebral cortex neurons with this increase being reversed by sleep. Garant’s paintings intend to stimulate our brain’s responses in similar ways with bright colors and visual elements. Each piece reflects a different state of awakening, coming out of sleep, dreams, or whatever it may be, and into our jarring, over-stimulating reality.
“Wakefulness” by Alex Garant will be on view at Spoke Art Gallery in San Francisco, CA from February 4th through 27th, 2016.