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Jonathan Gardner’s Highly Stylized Paintings of a Leisurely Life

Chicago based artist Jonathan Gardner's figurative-pop works combine an overabundance of 20th century styles. His paintings feature simplified figures in spaces that borrow visual techniques by artists like Pablo Picasso, Rene Magritte, Henri Matisse, and Fernand Léger. Gardner makes otherwise mundane scenes more interesting by enhancing the patterns in things like his subject's clothing, wallpaper, and tiled floors. Some of his subjects appear more melancholy, others more humored and lively, as in his images of women tanning by the swimming pool and playing tennis.

Chicago based artist Jonathan Gardner’s figurative-pop works combine an overabundance of 20th century styles. His paintings feature simplified figures in spaces that borrow visual techniques by artists like Pablo Picasso, Rene Magritte, Henri Matisse, and Fernand Léger. Gardner makes otherwise mundane scenes more interesting by enhancing the patterns in things like his subject’s clothing, wallpaper, and tiled floors. Some of his subjects appear more melancholy, others more humored and lively, as in his images of women tanning by the swimming pool and playing tennis. Like actors in a play, a few reappear in the same pose in entirely different scenes. We can especially see Matisse’s influence in the way he contours women using colors, shadows and details that are unusual and unrealistic. Along with this, features such as their breasts, arms and legs are portrayed more along the lines of avant-garde, which presented a very stylized, geometric image of women. They are almost always seen smoking perfectly puffy clouds of smoke, a common motif in Magritte’s works as well. Every piece is an experimentation where, like these modern masters who painted primarily from their imagination, Gardner is presenting us with an imaginary life of leisure.

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