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Recent Concordia MFA Painting and Drawing alumnus wins the Nancy Petry Award

Artist James Gardner will travel to Europe with a prize of $10,000
March 8, 2021
By Amelia Wong-Mersereau

James Gardner (MFA ’20), a recent graduate from Concordia’s Painting and Drawing program, is the recipient of the prestigious Nancy Petry Award.

Since 2015, the Nancy Petry Award has been funding an outstanding emerging Canadian artist in the field of painting to inspire and encourage their artistic practice. The Nancy Petry Foundation, working in partnership with the Joe Plaskett Foundation, awards $10,000 for the recipient to live and travel abroad for two months.

“I have seen many great artists win this award in the past, so it feels great to be in their company,” says Gardner.

While he does not expect to will be able to travel until Spring 2022, Gardner looks forward to visiting Italy, Greece and Turkey, to see the sites he has been studying in his work.

“A big part of my research lately has been looking at the work of Giotto and studying monastic traditions of image making,” says Gardner. “But I have only really seen these images and places online and digitized.”

Searching through archives and databases for images is a large part of Gardner’s painting practice. For example, his favourite collections are London’s Warburg Institute and their Iconographic Database online, as well as The Embassy of the Free Mind in Amsterdam. Gardner also keeps an ever-growing personal archive of what he calls mnemonic images and symbols, to explore their apparent agency and power. These are mostly historical images related to alchemy, magic, and astrology, accompanied by personal photographs of sites and artworks Gardner has visited during his travels.

Preparing for a solo exhibition at the Nicolas Robert Gallery

Image 1: James Gardner, Idle (installation view, 1st version), oil and marble dust on canvas with found objects, sculptures, rocks, approximately 62 x 60 inches, 2020. James Gardner, Idle (installation view, 1st version), oil and marble dust on canvas with found objects, sculptures, rocks, approximately 62 x 60 inches, 2020.

His painting-based installations can take the form of two-dimensional oil on canvas works or sculptures made from mixed materials and found objects. His recent solo exhibitions include Syzygy at McClure Gallery (Montreal 2018) and Vessels and Broods at Concordia’s MFA Gallery (Montreal 2020). Gardner is currently preparing for a solo exhibition at Montreal’s Nicolas Robert Gallery set to open on March 17, 2021.

Born in Kitchener Ontario, Gardner currently lives in Montreal and was a founding member of the artist collective VSVSVS. He was the recipient of The Toronto Arts Council and Ontario Arts Council Emerging Artist Grants, the TFVA’s Artist Prize, and The Canada Council for the Arts Project Grant. In 2018, Gardner received the prestigious Joseph Armand Bombardier Canadian Master’s Scholarship (SSHRC) and was short listed for the Bronfman Fellowship.

Applications to next year’s the Petry and Plaskett awards opened as of February 2021.

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