This current work by Tom Burckhardt bring together abstract figures, suggested landscapes, and visceral reflections on objects in space. While Burckhardt plays with numerous conventions, he introduces an element of fresh humor and wit into his large and colorful canvases. In these works, ribbons of paint are stacked and piled atop each other, massed together in chaotic snarls and tangles, wedged into the corners of the canvas, and mediated by recessed spaces that are divided into swathes of light and shadow. Forms, lines, patterns, and gradated colors coalesce into seemingly identifiable collections of matter, only to melt back into the idiosyncratic whole.
Rather than relying on a signature process or aesthetic lexicon, Burckhardt discovers each painting through a process of trial and error. He introduces an image into the work, overlaps it with something else, covers nearly everything over with more layers of paint, and starts anew. While one sees the evidence of earlier stages peeking through some of his paintings, Burckhardt’s process is conveyed with an air of confident direction and effortlessness.
The paintings invite prolonged scrutiny, as Burckhardt’s ability to embrace both the abstract and the representational enables viewers to read each work in different, often contradictory, ways without coming to a decisive conclusion. The hard-lined shapes of the paintings also conjure the solid, blocky depictions of contemporary graffiti, which can assume a variety of meanings, from the purely ornamental aspects of a bold style to the functional facets of lettering and language.
The works are simultaneously meditative and suggestive of perpetual motion. Precarious architectures, racetracks, open voids, loosened shoelaces, and taut anchor lines resolve on the horizon of the canvas, only to dissolve and morph into other entities altogether. The result is that the piece transforms during the act of perception, turning a deceptively simple form into one that evokes myriad associations.
Burckhardt has said:
I really love painting, but I also want to make fun of it. I want to have that full range of experience. I don’t want to be a true believer and wear blinkers about it. I want to acknowledge its absurdity.
TOM BURCKHARDT: City Slang
Exhibition Dates: April 7 — May 27, 2016
Opening Reception: Thursday, April 7, 5:00 – 7:30 PM
Gregory Lind Gallery
49 Geary Street, Fifth Floor
San Francisco CA 94108