James Gardner

How do images affect us? How can a picture transform and shape us? Control and manipulate us? James Gardner makes paintings in order to explore this apparent agency of images and investigate the image’s innate ability to manifest new forms of knowledge and experience. Using image archives and image databases, Gardner’s research looks to Western esoteric iconographic traditions to consider how images can be linked with experimental cognitive processes, memory, and the construction of subjectivities. Here, the function of the image becomes one with agency and carries a heuristic use. When interpreting and producing images in this way, the task becomes not only understanding what an image represents, but also how it can be used.  For Gardner, the act of painting itself becomes an act of process philosophy: a contemplative exercise of thinking about images and the ways in which images work on us, work on our bodies, and work on our psychology. 


Born in Kitchener Ontario in 1983, James Gardner currently lives in Montreal. After completing his MFA at Concordia University in 2020, Gardner’s thesis work was awarded both the Petry Award and William Blair Bruce European Travel Scholarship to conduct field research at Monastic sites in Greece and Turkey looking at historical and contemporary icon painting traditions. His graduate work and recent research has been centred on collaborations with institutions like the Warburg Institute and other image archives and historical sites related to the study of Western esoteric image traditions. Gardner’s work has been supported by several scholarships, prizes, and awards including the TFVA Artist Prize, the Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canadian Master’s Scholarship, and multiple grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Toronto Arts Council and the Ontario Arts Council.

Recent exhibitions


Here to Go, Solo Exhibition, Glenhyrst Art Gallery, Brantford Ontario, CA


Les plus beaux cauchemars/Cruel to Be Kind, Group Exhibition, Galerie Stewart Hall, Pointe-Claire Quebec, CA
Moving Pictures, 2 person show with David Lafrance, FOFA Gallery, Montreal Quebec, CA


SOS: A Story of Survival, Part 1, The Image, Group Exhibition, Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery, Kitchener Ontario, Canada.


As Gardens Need Walls, Solo Exhibition, Galerie Nicolas Robert Toronto, Toronto Ontario, CA

To Climb A Tall Pine, Solo Exhibition, Galerie Nicolas Robert, Montréal Quebec, CA


Salon Des Refusés, Group Exhibition, McBride Contemporary, Montreal Quebec, CA

Lucky Dip, Group Exhibition (As part of Pictura Painting Triennial), Maison de la culture de Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Montreal Quebec, CA

Vessels and Broods, Solo Exhibition (Thesis Show) MFA Gallery, Concordia University, Montreal Quebec, CA