In more ways than one, Bobbie Burgers’ paintings have never been so timely—that is, along with exploring time as a theme, they are also records for, tributes to, and critiques of time—expanding and collapsing layers of paint and process that tirelessly explore the curious space where the pictorial meets the philosophical.
These explorations reflect the very conditions of the contemporary: the effort to reconcile concepts of newness with the echoing voices of the past. In the case of Burgers, we see this past as it appears in a dependable trope–the floral still life—at odds with its own history as it is recalled again in a new, bold visual context which has for years defined the artist’s work. The flower, so emblematic of life and beauty, is also the symbol with which Burgers poetically exposes the precarious foundations of these concepts. A Beautiful Rebellion –a display of new work by Burgers—once again presents the artist’s dedicated audience with visual delights that push the limits of aesthetic convention.
We see this struggle play out on the canvas: as Burgers ventures even further into abstraction, her florals are at once intensely present and somehow secondary to the act of painting itself. Brushstrokes are larger, more confident. Like the artist’s gesture, they are decisive, including an entire spectrum of colour in one swipe, capturing not just the complexity of organic forms in space, but also multiple simultaneous dimensions in time. They are, increasingly, an index of Burgers herself, records of movement as she interacts with her surface and subject–the task of representation is here beautifully at odds with the impulse of expression. What Burgers creates is an image that both offers and withholds as it is poised between figuration and abstraction—it is form and formless, compositional and de-composing.
Are the flowers barely there? Or are they so magnified that they escape perception? Do they recede into the abstract, overcome by arching sweeps of colour, or do they advance toward us defiantly as hyper-real objects, filling our field of vision? Burgers demonstrates how the process of “blowing up” the image is also in many ways one of not just abstraction, but also disintegration. That we cannot precisely locate the recognizable—at least for very long—reminds us once more that these canvases are alive with a perpetual dance between surface and depth, substrate and symbol. While one blossom drips freely down a white patch of canvas, another petal is so tactile and vibrant that it seems to leap right off the painting. These flower forms bud, bloom, wilt, and shed in a single, dramatic scene of simultaneity; they spring off the canvas and—in some cases quite literally—enter our world.