Galvanised by a constellation of literary influences – Rabelais, TS Eliot and Bret Easton Ellis to name a few – Fiona Jardine (born Galashiels, 1970, lives in Glasgow) creates work engaged in crossovers between pre-Enlightenment and contemporary cultural conditions. Such intersections are evident both in the artist's holistic approach to her craft – Jardine commits to the production of the work herself rather than using external or specialist processes – and also in the diversity of the materials Jardine employs.
Using polystyrene, wallpaper, papier-mâché and wax, as well as more conventional media including photography and collage, the artist constructs decidedly sensual experiences. Jardine is interested primarily in collage, however, which serves as a practical working method and as a process which seeks not so much to juxtapose images or phrases in order to generate new meanings, but rather attempts to amalgamate discrete objects and images and ideas into a seamless whole. And while distinct interpretations vary from one object to the next, Jardine connects individual works through ambient associations in order to generate alternative and divergent narratives.
One work, (Pillar), formed part of solo exhibition April is the Cruellest Month (2006). A freestanding expanded polystyrene column coated in a slick high-gloss paint, Jardine's totemic object appears reminiscent of American artist Paul McCarthy's scatological aesthetic. This folly is neither ossified enough to become a monument, nor natural enough to seem biological. Instead it appears to occupy a liminal space between these two conflicting states, aping the form of the classical column with its fantastical and sickly architecture.
In stark contrast to the artificial putrescence of April is the Cruellest Month, meanwhile, is Jardine's Moltke's Eye (2007) – an exhibition which assumed the cool and stylised sheen of a monochromatic 80s interior. Having papered the whitewashed walls of Sorcha Dallas in Glasgow with intermittent columns of black and white, to create a pattern reminiscent of television static, Jardine then preceeded to hang a series of black and white figurative photographs. Presenting a suited male in various poses – seated, or else crumpled on a bare mattress – the figure's face is obscured by a bulbous, glossy black mask, which serves as a comic void or orifice. The motif of the ball-headed figure in Moltke's Eye – also present in photograph series They Became What They Beheld (2007) – makes a suggestive link with Eliot and Absurdist theatre, most notably Alfred Jarry and Samuel Beckett in particular. Additionally, the work seeks to harness the formal aspects of protagonist Patrick Bateman's apartment in Ellis' novel American Psycho.
For Nought to Sixty Jardine extends the collage element of her practice, viscerally connecting it with an interest in the human body as raw material. Using images primarily torn from women's fashion magazines, Jardine has reconfigured body parts into a grotesque design of skin and limbs. In two collages Jardine pastes disembodied hands into the shape of a sphere, which recalls the map of Dante's Inferno – where the levels of underworld are presented as concentric circles – and also as a sphincter – an image that the artist describes as an "ingesting, consuming" rather than an excreting hole.
Jardine's work deploys bodies with a brutal visionary approach reminiscent of arcane or medieval religious imagery. The primary source for Jardine in this instance is the writhing mass of bodies in Luca Signorelli's fresco The Damned Cast Into Hell (1499-1503). With a gothic sensibility and dark humour, the artist uses the seemingly innocuous space of the white cube to support a symbolic realm.