While Beatrice Burel’s paintings have the swirling energy of many abstract works, they also suggest something quite different: the murmuring of numerous voices beneath each layer. The artist’s work has changed greatly over the years, and is seldom truly abstract. She courageously goes beyond the given and familiar, pioneering new techniques and materials in order to expand her own vision.
Heavy, multilayered surfaces and mixed media prevail in her earlier works, where pigmented inks exaggerate texture that resembles vigorously worked cement. These works reference a moment when numerous artists used an exaggerated physicality to circumvent the emotionalism of Abstract Expressionism—from the Fontana’s punctured canvases to Dubuffet surfacing his with dirt. Burel’s work takes us back to our very beginnings, before written laws, received wisdom, and force of habit, all but shackled our individual creativity and freedom of expression. The artist’s works in a variety of mediums impact ours senses, awaken our emotional memory, and empower us to see the universe and beyond. A painting should not end on the canvas, the artist states. It should encourage viewers to create worlds of their own. The work of Burel allows us to do just that. Passionately committed to exploring the inherent properties, color, and power of each medium, Burel’s ardor for materials is evident in both her paintings and prints. As an experimental and dynamic artist, Burel effortlessly convinces us that she has not only perfected her craft, but that she also has an impeccable instinct for the emotionally evocative power of color, movement, texture, and shape. Her works evoke a sense of abundance; swirling arabesques of color, in brilliant and vivid shades of blue, yellow, and green, are rich, luxurious, sensuous, fluid, and overflowing.
The construction of her epic paintings, from composition, to the laying down of shapes, colors, and textures, transport us to another dimension; each work tells a story based on the artist’s search for the truth. It is here, basking in the light of her forms that our own thoughts and ideas come into play. In Amplitude, and Sans Titre Burel refines a methodology of abstract expressionism into a unique, innovative, and internationally acclaimed art form. Her moving work can be identified by its commitment to an aesthetic that celebrates and promotes the spiritual and emotive power of art. Burel’s overture relates to man, often blending a hybrid of existential compositions and Expressionism in order to illustrate the human condition. Our every hope and dream is explored in her touching works, from our imperfections and disillusions, to the consequences of our actions.
Many of the works on display at Bruel’s recent Paintings exhibition at the New Art Center in New York City were exemplary of Burel’s penchant for monolithic, eccentric, dynamic forms, and bursts of emotion. Her art is impulsive but not violent—and more seductive than confrontational. Her works don’t want to assault you, but suck you into their oceanic swirl, carry you along for the ride. The magic emerges in the tension between control and spontaneity, and the result is invariably surprising, open-ended, poetic, and spiritual.
In Profusion and Fragment Bruel establishes herself as an artistic force to be reckoned with. A powerful female painter in a genre of male domination, Burel’s overture places her with the likes of Lee Krasner, Grace Hartigan, and Helen Frankenthaler. In both works the artist creates a foreboding explosion at the canvas center. In the painting Profusion the artist appears to consider her own mortality. The profile of an ambiguous face appears at the center of the dense storm, contrasting tranquility and meditation with the movement and drama of the foreground. While the painting’s background can be read as representing past, present, future, the existence of the brilliantly embedded figure, signal a rich interior. A master of color, Burel is equally adept in her use of pure white. In Sans Titre using white to both invade and neuter the surrounding cacophony of colors, the artist’s intent is to block out the outside world in order to give the viewer space in which to roam freely.
Substantial Reality, (Triptych) made in 2008 shows Burel at her most ambitious. In attempting to express the near impossible—the sorrow and beauty of humanity—the artist produces an empathy and understanding of which the very depth leaves us no other alternative but to follow the artist into the unknown. Burel’s free-form paintings—incredibly fluid, vibrant, and intensely colorful works on canvas and paper are evidence of a prolific artist whose consistent studio practice has lead her to become a master of her technique. Burel has perfected her painterly practice—mixing the gouache and water color, adding and stirring until she has the right mix—to create works that embody an intense and energetic physicality, an exuberant expression of pleasure and vitality.