Tom Burckhardt at Pierogi

Louder Milk
8 April – 8 May, 2011
Gallery 1 + 2
Opening reception
Friday, 8 April, 7-9pm

Bio >>

Press Release

Pierogi is pleased to present an exhibition of recent paintings by Tom Burckhardt. In this new body of work, Burckhardt continues in his persistent effort to blur the boundaries between abstraction and representation, between painting and sculpture, between tradition and invention. Rather than trying to merge opposites, however, he works to embody each simultaneously. His imagery can appear entirely abstract, or a figurative element can emerge here or there. Traditional oil paint is applied to cast plastic rather than stretched canvas. There is a sense of the paintings being simultaneously hand made and mass-produced. Burckhardt enjoys the tension that these contradictions produce; their effect of slowing down the viewing and perception process, and the fact that the paintings cannot be easily “read” in one glance.

“…[T]he casting of the support posits them as sculptures and paintings at the same time, because it’s the form of a painting, a canvas, but it’s made in a process related to sculpture. They’re mass-produced and they’re handmade and touched, and then they’re abstract and figurative. They’re all those things come together under the umbrella of a hybrid of some sort.” (The Brooklyn Rail. Interview with John Yau)

Regarding the imagery in his paintings, Burckhardt notes the effect of pareidolia, where recognizable, representational images can appear randomly. When this effect “…crops up [in his paintings]…rather than veering away, like a good and pure abstractionist, I steer in to this territory. My interest lies in utilizing this extremely powerful image-wiring we all have which is our most primary visual itch and keeping a parallel track in abstraction active simultaneously.”

This exhibition will consist of a group of intimately scaled paintings, each approximately twelve and one-half by fourteen and one-half inches. In a painting titled “Bad Mustard” a series of geometric shapes come together and appear to be architectural forms or rooflines. In “Louder Milk” a group of odd organic, nose-like shapes congregate in a corner. Only after looking closely does it become apparent that the texture of the surfaces comes not from the paint but through the casting process and is consistent throughout the paintings. The kinds of nails that typically attach canvas to a stretcher are painted around each side, subtly revealing the faux nature of the structure. The back of each painting, invisible to the gallery viewer, has a painted wood texture stretcher bar and further reveals the whimsical nature of the faux quality Burckhardt employs. In this, John Yau notes that “…part of his project is to destabilize the grand tradition of painting and sculpture while simultaneously finding non-nostalgic ways to honor them.”  (The Brooklyn Rail)

Burckhardt’s work has been exhibited widely and is currently on view in “New Image Sculpture” (McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, TX), and was recently included in the Annual Exhibit at the National Academy Museum (New York, NY) and “A World In Cardboard” (City Museum, Aalst, Belgium). Burckhardt was born in and currently lives and works in New York City.