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Slideshow: Tim Gardner Rewilds the Watercolour

Worlds collide in the work of painter Tim Gardner. Best known for his early works capturing the drunken camaraderie of ruddy-faced college students on spring-break bacchanals and, more recently, lone figures of surfers, skiers or hikers set amid the majestic beauty of crashing waves and mountaintop vistas, Gardner’s small, masterfully rendered watercolour and pastel works pivot on the seemingly oppositional tropes of popular culture and art history, with a heavy dose of the romantic sublime.

It’s work that has garnered the Vancouver Island–based artist a wide international following since he graduated from the MFA program at New York’s Columbia University in 1999, including shows at high-profile New York and London commercial galleries and an artist residency and solo exhibition at the National Gallery in London. (To view a slideshow of new and recent paintings by Gardner, click on the Photos icon above.)

Yet, as contributing editor Robin Laurence writes in the Winter 2014 issue of Canadian Art, Gardner’s work is about much more than a straightforward existentialist measure of contemporary culture. It is a practice rooted in deep family ties to outdoor culture and environmentalism, a keen sense for the poetics of everyday life, and an arguably subversive choice to work outside of the dominant modes of contemporary artmaking.

“In his view,” Laurence explains, “the comings and goings of ordinary folk are of consequence, and, more importantly, so is their relationship with the natural world. Whether Gardner’s figures are enthralled with or oblivious to their surroundings, his art argues an ineluctable bond between the great Out There of mountains, ocean and forest, and the niggling In Here of psyche.”

For more details on Tim Gardner’s life and work, pick up the Winter 2014 issue of Canadian Art, available on newsstands, on the App Storeand on Zinio from December 15, 2013 to March 14, 2014. To get each issue delivered straight to your mailbox, visit

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