"I met Marianna Gartner two years ago during her solo exhibition entitled ‘An Eye for an Eye” which took place at the magnificent Belvedere Palace in Vienna. I had discovered her works by chance, strolling through the halls of the Basel fair, while admiring Bacon’s and Rauch ‘s paintings. Among the thousands of canvases and three-dimensional works, I bumped into the portrait of a spooky young girl staring at me, in silent astonishment, her still face, her naked chest only covered by a fine dress. All of a sudden I was captured by this vision and could not but stop in front of it. And it still happens the same to me every time I look at Gartner’ s works: this magnetism emanating from her canvases continues to catch my eye."
"Over the past years, the Canadian Artist Marianna Gartner has developed a figurative idiom which really stands out in the diversity of new trends in painting. (…) Her protagonists are characterized by their absence of emotion, of spontaneity, of response to what is happening around them. (…) The virtually autistic seclusion of the figures, their apathy and their transported state (…) condemns to failure every attempt to read what is represented as a consistent pictorial narrative. (…) Gartner paints pictorial puzzles whose resolutions lie beyond what is obviously depicted, in the very form of the depiction itself. In her paintings she exposes as projections stories which would seem to fit the protagonists like a glove, but never do, because of the artist’s undermining strategies. In fact, everything that happens in the mind’s eye of the viewer is just wishful thinking, which ignores the obvious – that these paintings go beyond the end of the story."
"Old photos are the basis for many of Marianna Gartner’s canvases. (…) What seems to interest her is the absolute presence of the photographed subjects and the persistent, haunting quality that comes from it. Usually their eyes, but many times their postures as well, betray a range of emotions aimed at something that is no longer there (the seductive lens) and which are now directed at us, their future viewers. From that point in the past, they are plucked and transformed by Gartner into something else. And it is in this sense that Gartner subverts the traditional art of portraiture. (…) Because of this, Gartner wisely does not interpret her paintings and, with few exceptions, her titles are merely descriptive. Medieval theologians only approved of images with words. Gartner refuses such authoritarian methods. Her characters and the objects through which these characters appear to be defined, demand no other “story” than that accorded by the limits of their canvas: they stand, like the subjects who stood for the itinerant photographer, now long turned to dust, as souvenirs, as memory of a moment that could not take place and that yet, as Gartner’s canvases prove, in all their disturbing ordinariness, indeed took place."
"Gartner’s strategy has been to take the combination of the beautiful and the sinister, and insinuate one quality into the other. (…) The source of the painting’s ambiguity is the artist’s own. “I find the darker side of the clown seductive and sinister,” says Marianna Gartner, the impresario of anomalous humanity."