Jay Gard concerns himself with semiotics, architecture and visual perception theories in his works. For the curated outdoor space of Art Rotterdam, in front of the Van Nelle Factory, Gard designed and built an installation of two signposts, wooden replicas of signs for tourists as found in every highway around the world. Gard reduced the images to a two-part geometrical form that is reminiscent of the horizon. The signs became minimal landscapes.
Jay Gard paints his new “road signs” on the reflector foil of real road signs with acrylic paint. In contrast to his “touristic hints”, where he exclusively used the internationally common brown color of signposts, he works with various colors in his recent “road signs”. The different colors create a spatial effect and the often used stripes refer to landscapes, or rather to the external world. Since the colors are applied on the reflector foil of the signs, they disappear when the light falls from direction of sight, and the work appears to be monochrome. On the other hand, when the light falls against the direction of the viewer, the foil reflects the colors of the external world.
With his new “road signs”, Jay Gard investigates forms that are reminiscent of pictograms. The forms appear to be cut out from the colorful surface. This way, the intentionally constructed outline of such a form becomes a signifier. In contrast to the constructed line, the (surrounding) surface of color is painted in a characteristically rapid style, and its appearance relies heavily on coincidence. The almost gestural, painted surfaces are juxtaposed with colorless, intentional forms. The forms, in part, display the cuts through historical frames. The reference to a frame is beyond mere design and it raises the question of how the relation of art and design is constituted. The designed, cut-out form of the frame refers, just like every other frame, to art.
The paintings are minimal and abstract; the reference to reality arises mainly from the pictogram-like form, and from the materials and the context they specify: road, traffic, sign of a landmark. The works encourage us to rethink the relation between the sign and the signified, the handiwork and the industrial, art and design; and consider writing, global standardization and last but not least the significance of culture anew. Jay Gard established a distinctive, unmistakable language of his own in recent years and is among the young independent positions that continue the legacy of artists such as Sol LeWitt, Donald Judd or Richard Artschwager.