Minimal and geometric landscapes, sculptural and contorted figures, black and pastel colours and unidentifiable faces turn Alex Gardner's style into one of the most recognisable out there. There is much more than just an aesthetic approach to his work. Besides the surreal atmospheres that encompass his paintings, Alex bases his work on tangible moments he expresses through minimal elements, adding the drama of modern existence to the figures that illustrate it.
You’re currently based in Los Angeles and you’re having your first solo show in London, but tell us a bit about your background.
I grew up in a southern suburb of Los Angeles and went to university by request of my mom.
The first thing that stands out when looking at your work are the erased faces in all the human figures you paint. Why are their faces dispensable for you?
I do not want the figures in my paintings to be identifiable or to have their own personalities.  They are intended to be blank vessels that viewers can project themselves onto.
However, they’re constantly expressing and exchanging emotions. What are they actually talking about?
They are dealing with the usual qualms of modern existence.
Plants and humans are the only elements that bring real life to the scenes you paint. Why are you so interested in the human body?
I think the human body is really beautiful.
Even if the people in your paintings are just dressed with plain t-shirts and shorts, I can sense an aesthetic approach to it. To which extent are you influenced by fashion?
I definitely appreciate the art of fashion, it is too bad clothes cost so much. I take into consideration how the white tees fit my figures… You must like fashion too for making such a connection.
It is easy to find references in your paintings to the surreal work of Dalí or the metaphysical art of Giorgio de Chirico. Tell us some other things that influence your work which are further deep in your subconscious.
I do not even like De Chirico, to be honest. I would not hang one of his paintings in my house (laughs). I also have not looked at a Dalí painting since my days in school. My work is all based on tangible waking moments and emotions rather than the subconscious and dream state. As far as style and technique goes, I am more drawn to old painters like Titian.
There is a dreamlike perspective to your work, though, characterised by your unique way of painting the human body and the magic geometric and pastel background where it is framed…
I have created these environments in an attempt to be minimal, not surreal. I did not like the idea of having decorative elements in my paintings. The figures tend to be depicting some type of struggle and drama, and I use color to convey a contrasting positive emotion and perspective to what the figures illustrate.