Three women stare at the viewer with too many eyes; a woman against a dark mountainscape slides into and out of focus; and the eye attempts to make sense of what it’s seeing. These aren’t hallucinations, they’re the exquisitely detailed paintings of Toronto-based artist Alex Garant. With upcoming shows in San Francisco, Portugal, and Australia, Garant’s built a name for herself with her enigmatic, hallucination-inducing paintings.
Though Garant uses traditional techniques, these paintings are anything but the norm. Garant tells The Creators Project that her works, “oscillate between hallucinatory and psychological.” Her signature style, featuring models with double eyes and double vision, “can cause dizziness and even phantom visions. It’s this kind of agitation that makes the final image unique and warps the viewer’s idea of beauty. While classical portraiture exists to position subjects in the best possible light, I try to engage in a broader contemporary discussion with my use of colors and contrasts.”
Garant leaned into her work and began seriously making paintings after suffering from a heart attack. She explains that, after the heart attack, “nothing mundane was affecting me, I was very focused on specific goals, either emotionally or professionally. Once I realized art was everything to me, it got easier to find time to do what I love. Eliminating fear and doubt was also essential to my process and my new found ‘nothing to lose’ attitude.”
Garant thinks of a subject “as a more traditional portrait. Often female muses with a gazing look. I love the idea of the character being lost in thoughts, it triggers many questions: What is she thinking? What is her story? Is she sad or content?” She then adds in the abstractions once she’s spent time with the original concept, “I try to keep a fairly stiff composition, as I like the vibration effect to come exclusively from the oscillation of the double exposure. I absolutely want my art to be part of a conversation as it is meant to engage the observers into an image investigation process and hopefully enlist their senses differently while doing so. I'm attempting to build a mind puzzle for people to solve.”
Her paintings are imbued with a near-neon electricity. “I have been exploring colors a lot more. Just following my instincts and letting my mood dictate color choices. By being more honest with colors, I feel like the viewer can follow my emotional voyage better.”
Our big question: Are these double-eyed paintings for stoners? Is Garant embracing drug culture through her paintings? “I’ve actually been sober for almost 13 years now,” says Garant. “So it is always interesting to see my work interpreted that way. I think it is great. [Laughs] I believe art is often a language on its own. It is often hard to communicate with words, by creating images, it lets me silently speak to an audience. And the beautiful thing about this sharing process is the message will always be different and personalized depending on the life experience of the person on the receiving end."
To learn more about Alex Garant, click here.