Elijah Burgher will present a group of new colored pencil drawings and acrylic paintings on canvas drop cloths that delve into the intersection of desiring fantasy and daily life. The pictures combine observations of the artist's social world and spaces he inhabits with sigils, abstraction, mythology and the embellishments of imagination. Burgher’s new works summarize and extend the concerns he’s been exploring for the past five years, and range from multi-figure scenarios and portraiture to abstract compositions of personal symbols. The show opens with a free public reception on Friday, October 25 from 5 to 8pm and runs through December 7, 2013. An essay by artist Doug Ischar will accompany the exhibition.
A mega-sigil, “Excremental Philosophy Illustrated, Vol. 1,” composed of a network of symbols from a personal alphabet of desire, presides over the exhibition. Resembling an electrical diagram or game board, it serves as a matrix of forms and esoteric map to the other works on view. In some of the latter pieces, a group of men wander the thresholds, corridors and cul-de-sacs of a maze, on the walls of which various symbols recur. They are akin to William S. Burroughs’ Wild Boys, only older--and perhaps more somber--in countenance. In fact, the figures are based on the artist’s friends and loved ones, as well as his own likeness. A handful of portraits picture mythological entities, countercultural figures from the past, and recently deceased friends—each calling to presence someone who would or could not otherwise appear.
The modestly scaled drawings nestle amongst large paintings of sigils on canvas drop cloths, hung flush to the floor, some on the wall, others partitioning the gallery space. These larger works allude to the artist’s work space, European ceremonial magic, as well as tensions within the history of 20th century abstraction. Fragments of a portable, soft architecture, the paintings extend the imagined labyrinth of the drawings into real space, functioning as both literal walls and figurative portals.
Elijah Burgher currently has a large painting installation included in The Temptation of AA Bronson at the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam, The Netherlands that runs through January 5, 2014. Burgher is profiled and his work has been included in Phaidon’s VITAMIN D2 hardcover survey of contemporary drawing practices. Work in recent group shows at Carthage College in Kenosha and at the Sullivan Galleries at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago was written about on Hyperallergic and New City Chicago. In 2011, he was a resident artist at both the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and the Fire Island Artist Residency. Burgher received his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and BA from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY. He lives and works in Chicago.