Brutally frank. The openness in Gardiner’s papers

There’s something absolute in child language. Children are known for their candor and are able to show their feelings and thoughts in the clearest way. The possibility to express pure perceptions and viewpoints is temporary because of social habits and limitations, which are predominant during maturity. Creativity and imagination are often linked to childhood, but the creative perseverance is what distinguishes an artist from a common human being. The will to slow down the social growth process, which is usually conditioned by expressive restrictions, characterizes many artists.


Paul Klee, for example, was one of the first to focus his artistic research on child language. When, in 1902, he found his childhood drawings, he wrote a letter to his girlfriend Lily Stumpf affirming that those sketches were the most significant thing he ever did. According to Klee, take inspiration from childhood is a way to re-embrace a primordial status, which is necessary to avoid rationality and release an unconditioned creativity.

This kind of “return to the origins” is not to be understood as an unsophisticated way to act, but it is just a redevelopment process.  The work of Sano Shigejiro offers us a perfect example of this.              The Japanese artist, in fact, is the creator of the Hiroshima’s cover (Fig. 1). The well-known photographer Domon Ken published the Hiroshima collection (a photographic review to chronicle the lingering effect of the bomb) in 1958 and chose the hands of Shigejiro to introduce his dramatic work to the public. Looking at the cover, the reference to the suffering and the scars caused by the nuclear bomb is clear, but what is interesting is that Shigejiro decided to express this kind of emotions in a childlike composition. Using child language, the artist made his massage pure and universally understandable, but without erasing his mature awareness of reality.

The ability to mix child expressivity and mature consciousness characterized Daniel Gardiner. Explicitly influenced by Jean-Michel Basquiat, the English artist is a frank narrator of our age. His artistic approach is able to explore childlike communicability through an adult rationality. Gardiner, in fact, chooses to use his primordial language to face contemporary problems: politics, culture, social troubles and mental illness. The world is both the audience and the subject. There are no geographic limits to become interested in Gardiner’s art. The language is unadulterated, the topic is universal.

Fig. 2 Daniel Gardiner, There Is Always Money For War.

Fig. 1 Sano Shigejiro, cover of Domon Ken Hiroshima, 1958.

Fig. 3 Daniel Gardiner, Power Corrupts Completely.

“THERE IS ALWAYS MONEY FOR WAR”, “APATHY ALWAYS WINS – AM I THE MONSTER?”, “HOW MUCH FOR YOUR SOUL?”, Daniel says through his grotesque red-eyed faces (Fig. 2, 3). The provocative message is always supported by a graphic primitivism that allows him to show his feelings and ideas without any kind of filter. Letting his creativity free from “postproduction processes”, Gardiner can immortalize a specific expressive stimulus. Child sincerity becomes rude, looking at our contemporary problems through the eyes of a conscious individual. Daniel Gardiner is brutally honest and it is an uncommon trait in our society, but he is “PROUD TO BE WEIRD” (Fig. 4) and we appreciate that.

Fig. 4 Daniel Gardiner, Proud To Be Weird.