Vases, pitchers and coffee cups, particularly unadorned and oversimplified, become heroic in Garde’s well-known series, Vessels. Whether rendered in highly saturated primary colors or scratched out of blackness in stark white, each vessel the painter makes through mark means more than its basic form suggests. Garde’s Vessels are not mere still-life studies, though works like Still Vessels, One Green and Coke and Pitcher demonstrate the painter’s facility with the genre.
Much as Giorgio Morandi revisited and repainted the same group of objects time and time again in his still-life series, Garde brings out his old favorites and remixes them on the picture plane when the need for line, color or shape requires it. But make no mistake, his placement of objects is not haphazard even if the combinations look loose and thrown together; these works are formally composed and considered.
Vessels is an excellent series for viewers to acquaint themselves with Garde’s painterly construct that leads to personal interpretation of a universal form. His containers take on symbolic qualities and embody psychological states as they are made iconic through voluptuously haphazard curves and overblown proportion, as in Yellow Pitcher, or when juxtaposed with “visitors” from other series, like Vase + Jack. So one must consider the narrative element and discover what the objects stand—or are standing in—for.
Does the yellow pitcher represent spring-like abundance and self-fulfillment, or colorful isolation in almost colorless surrounds? Is the “Jack” in the box deliberately separated from the “plain-Jane” vase because it wants to act on what the empty form represents? Are the two forms equal but anti-ethical symbols of singular concepts that must be compared to be fully appreciated? Or is the vase, filled and fully formed, in no mood or need of interaction with the pop-up puppet that has sprung from its box (surprise!) and revealed its contemplative madness? These are but a few of the numerous readings of this seemingly simplistic work one could consider; the subject matter is ultimately the viewer’s to provide.
--Jeanne M. Dowis