contemporary art

Marianna Gartner

Canada 1963


Marianna Gartner
Marianna Gartner
February 11, 2015

Marianna Gartner is a Canadian painter, best known for her exceptional paintings based on old photographs, depicting protagonists that are characterized by their absence of emotion, of spontaneity, of response to what is happening around them.

Gartner was born in 1963 in Winnipeg, but moved to Calgary during her early childhood, where she got her BFA in painting and photography at the University of Calgary, Canada. She got in the international limelight when she was included in Reading Pictures, a book that also looks at paintings by historical giants including Pablo Picasso and Caravaggio.

Over the past years, Gartner has developed a figurative idiom which really stands out in the diversity of new trends in painting. She paints pictorial puzzles whose resolutions lie beyond what is obviously depicted, in the very form of the depiction itself. The virtually autistic seclusion of the figures, their apathy and their transported state condemns to failure every attempt to read what is represented as a consistent pictorial narrative. The stories behind the photographs remain unknown, and the characters in her portraits remain a mystery.

Old photos are the basis for many of Marianna Gartner’s canvases, which she finds at flea markets or in antique shops. Usually the eyes of the depicted subjects, but many times their postures as well, betray a range of emotions aimed at something that is no longer there. From that point in the past, they are plucked and transformed by Gartner into something else. They stand, like the subjects who stood for the itinerant photographer, now long turned to dust, as souvenirs, as memory of a moment that could not take place and that yet, as Gartner’s canvases prove, in all their disturbing ordinariness, indeed took place.

The source of the painting’s ambiguity is the artist’s own. Gartner’s strategy is to take the combination of the beautiful and the sinister, and insinuate one quality into the other. ‘I find the darker side of the clown seductive and sinister,’ as the artist states. Her paintings are filled with laughing skeletons, bright pumpkins, flies with fishtails and children in unusual, impossible situations. Common characteristics of her works are lack of a common location, a unified time and a compelling plot, which all work in the favor of producing confusion and irresistible charm of each of her paintings. Gartner uses certain motifs to create artworks similar to vanitas – a still-life painting genre containing symbols of death or change as a reminder of their inevitability and human mortality.

Her paintings were featured in numerous group and solo exhibitions, in various venues all around Europe and Canada.

Marianna Gartner currently lives and works in Vancouver and Europe.

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumGroup/Solo
2014Jared Sable CollectionBarbara Edwards Contemporary, Toronto, CanadaGroup
2013Still LifesGalerie Michael Haas, Berlin, GermanySolo
2013Traum & RealitätAliseo Art Projekt, Gengenbach, GermanyGroup
2013Landschaft nach 2000Kunsthalle Osnabrück, Osnabrück, GermanyGroup
2012Metamorphosis-The Transformation of BeingAll Visual Arts, London, UKGroup
2011An Eye for an EyeBelvedere Museum, Vienna, AustriaSolo
2011Von Engeln & BengelnKunsthalle Krems, Krems, AustriaGroup
2011Memories of the FutureLa Maison Rouge, Paris, FranceGroup
2010Natural SelectionGalerie Haas AG, ZurichSolo
2010Dream and RealityGalerie Miro, PragueGroup
2010Lebenslust und TotentanzKunsthalle Krems, Krems, AustriaGroup
2009Movers & ShakersGalerie Haas & Fuchs, New York, NYSolo
2009OpenZoya Museum, Modra, SlovakiaGroup
2009Fixsterne – 100 Jahre Kunst auf Papier, Adolph Menzel bis Kiki SmithStiftung Schleswig Holsteinische Landesmuseen, Schloß GottorfGroup
2009Gala. 5 Sammler zeigen Ihre FavoritenMuseum der bildenden Künste Leipzig, GermanyGroup
2008Go for it – Olbricht CollectionNeuen Museum Weserburg, Bremen, GermanyGroup
2007Marianna GartnerGalerie Michael Haas, Galerie Haas & Fuchs, Berlin, GermanySolo
2007Strange BrewMax Lang Gallery, New York, New York, USAGroup
2007The Teardrop explodesStadtgalerie Schwaz, AustriaGroup
2007Baby Body – Babies in der zeitgenössischen KunstKunsthalle Darmstadt, GermanyGroup
2007JetztGalerie Beck & Eggling, Düsseldorf, GermanyGroup
2006Works on Paper20.21 Galerie, Essen, GermanySolo
2006Auf PapierGalerie Michael Haas, Berlin, GermanyGroup
2005Ratatouille20.21 Galerie, Essen, GermanyGroup
2005Les Grands Spectacles – 120 Jahre Kunst und MassenkulturMuseum der Moderne, Salzburg, AustriaGroup
2005After NatureAeroplastics Contemporary, Brussels, BelgiumGroup
2004Play Dead20.21 Galerie, Essen, GermanySolo
2004Dessins - Le Ring FoundationTheatre des Angers, FranceGroup
2003The Bad SeasonKarton Gallery, Budapest, HungarySolo
2002Night LightsSable-Castelli Gallery, Toronto, CanadaSolo
2001Portraits desobligeantsCanadian Cultural Centre, ParisSolo
2001Stepping OutSable-Castelli Gallery, Toronto, CanadaSolo
1999Balancing ActsSable-Castelli Gallery, Toronto, CanadaSolo
1999New Visions...Forum Galery, New York, NY, USAGroup
1999New ArtistsSable-Castelli Gallery, Toronto, CanadaGroup
1997The Figurative ImpulseForum Gallery, New York, NY, USAGroup
1997The Camera ObscuredEdmonton Art Gallery, Edmonton, CanadaGroup
1996The Glad SeasonUniversity of Winnipeg, CanadaSolo
1996Bugs, Babies, & BonesBau-Xi Gallery, Vancouver, CanadaSolo
1995Realism RevisitedMuttart Art Gallery, Calgary, CanadaGroup
1994Myths & ImagesBau-Xi Gallery, Vancouver, CanadaSolo
1994The Human FactorWhyte Museum, Banff, CanadaGroup
1993RitualsMuttart Art Gallery, Calgary, CanadaSolo
1993Young Contemporaries ‘93London Regional Art Gallery, London , CanadaGroup
1993Group ShowBeaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton, CanadaGroup
1993Group ShowIllingworth-Kerr Gallery, Calgary, CanadaGroup
1993Group ShowRodman Hall, St. Catherines, CanadaGroup
1993Canadian ArtistsGalerie Pallas, Prague, Czech RepublicGroup
1992Strange ObsessionsBau-Xi Gallery, Vancouver, CanadaSolo
1992Return to Exceptional PassWhyte Museum, Banff, CanadaGroup
1991The Joy of LivingBarton Leier Gallery, Victoria, CanadaSolo
1991Reclaimed ImagesVirginia Christopher Galleries, CalgarySolo
1991Under 30 - Painting & SculptureTriangle Gallery, Calgary, CanadaGroup