Western Project is proud to present our second exhibition of paintings by Thomas Burke. Originally from Boulder City, Nevada and a graduate of University of Nevada at Las Vegas, Burke has been a resident of Brooklyn, New York since 2005. As a cerebral painter, this body of work continues his interest in systems, minimalism, and Op Art from the 1960s and 70s; with the computer as a drawing tool, his images also explore contemporary graphic design, digital technology and the history of hard-edged abstract, geometric painting.
Lately it has occurred to me that my subject is in fact pleasure and complexity, the way that they are linked, the feeling of reward we get from problem-solving, as fundamental and hard-wired as the pleasures of eating, sleeping, and other key survival activities. It’s my intention to make an art that can compete for attention in a hyper visual world, while creating and resolving formal painting problems with style.
To that end, as a starting point, I draw inspiration from mid-century California hard-edge painters like John McLaughlin and Frederick Hammersley, both masters of formal gamesmanship and elegant compositional balancing acts. At the same time, I’m greatly interested in the concerns of perceptual art, a genre of painting I adore not leastwise for it’s inclusiveness (one needn’t have a knowledge of art history to enjoy Op-art), but also for the way its static images engage the viewer in the conscious act of looking. ”
The new paintings are both diamond shaped, and circular. As a nod to Frank Stella’s unusual shaped works from the 1960’s, Burke also playfully skates the tradition of Mondrian’s grid compositions. While the later referenced a universal balance of nature, Burke’s language is enmeshed in issues of industry, cyber-languages, and urban architecture. One can see the dynamic cubist cityscapes of Lyonel Feininger’s paintings from the early 20th century as well as the expertly crafted pin-striping of American hot rod car culture. It is the contradictions in his work which produce a kind of dynamism; mathematical vs. optical illusion, or psychedelic vs. classicism; a human framework for slippery concepts.
the painterly act is one that is ultimately intuitive”.
Thomas Burke received his BFA from the University of Nevada at Las Vegas in 2002 and in 2004 attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. He has exhibited with Ameringer McEnery Yohe in New York, and Galerie Jean-Luc & Takako Richard in Paris, France. His work was highlighted in the Las Vegas Diaspora: The Emergence of Contemporary Art from the Neon Homeland curated by Dave Hickey at the Las Vegas Art Museum in 2007 and the Laguna Beach Art Museum in 2008. Burke currently resides and works in Brooklyn, New York.