Viky Garden has a consistent and focused body of work dating back 30 years. Almost exclusively using herself as the subject, she explores themes of impermanence, self-image, introspection and the female experience. Garden’s imagery has progressed significantly where a more painterly expressionist style has been employed. Portrayed in a more abstract manner, the faces reveal less definition with a greater emphasis on chiaroscuro (the treatment of light and shade). The gestural and lively application of paint supports the somewhat distorted yet alluring nature of the subject. While her early works were primarily in oil, in 2015 these were replaced by liquid acrylics and brushes were often replaced with pieces of card – a new approach was born.
Garden’s recent works offer a rich interplay between gestural mark-making and representation. The sheer concentration on her subject matter shows a remarkable discipline in Garden’s artistic practice, which is carried through to her work’s titles. Most works are described only by the month and year in which they were completed. This choice of marking time amplifies the transitory nature of one’s self, and the inevitability of change – ideas that are both personal to the artist and universally understood, locking together the maker and the viewer.
Garden’s recent series of limited edition photographs, Casting Shadows, was created in 2018 by using a pinhole camera. This type of camera does not have a lens, but does have a tiny aperture. Light from a scene passes through the aperture and projects an inverted image on the opposite side of the box, which is known as the camera obscura effect. Earlier this year Garden won the prestigious 13th Pollux Photography Award in the Self Portrait Category in Barcelona, Spain. Several photographs from this series will be exhibited at the Photo Forum Gallery, Barcelona, in October this year.
“As a painter, I am very aware of how a painting can, when the going’s good, invent itself. It develops outside of anything I’m doing to encourage it – often in spite of what I’m trying to do and which I never quite achieve (hence the next painting). So it is with photography, I love the mysterious revealing or developing aspect and it’s this that feels lacking in the digital picture-taking process.
Because Casting Shadows were indoor poses, the exposures were up to 14 minutes long. This meant sitting as still as a statue, shallow breathing because even the rib cage moving created a blur. As I sat there, I had little idea what the camera was choosing to focus on but hoped serendipity graced herself and bestowed an exquisite result. Yes, it’s very much like a lottery. It’s about inviting chance into a process and respecting that very little will ever go to plan.
The resulting images have a recognisable idiosyncratic aesthetic. They are an analogue image as opposed to something digital. They are time and light crafted.”
– Viky Garden