The intersection of the built environment and the natural realm fascinates Peter Burega, and he expresses this fascination via high-energy, colorful interpretations of the odd juxtapositions and unexpected congruencies he observes in the world around him. His method is a subtractive one in which he layers the paint over warmly toned underpaintings, then scrapes the layers away to create an otherworldly fusion of stillness and motion.
In his newest work, The New Mexico Series, Burega explores his home environment, seeking out the quirks and surprises that characterize the local landscape and exalting them through his masterful evocation of the relationships between power and fragility, chaos and control. This series continues his use of a grid to create finite boundaries to contain his seething energy, but this time around the grid is less a subtle structure than an overt division that underscores the dynamic tension of his color fields, markings and deep layers.
“This work is grittier, involving more scraping, sanding and removal than I’ve done before,” says Burega. “I’m less concerned with making it ‘pleasing’ and more concerned with showing the ‘unvarnished’ quality of the landscape that comes through, even though the surfaces are in fact highly varnished and the rendering of the landscape is abstract.”
The intensity of this process produces a sense of motion, as if the panels within the painting are shifting before your eyes to reveal new shapes, like shards of pottery being fused back together to create new vessels. The assiduous scraping evokes a feeling of antiquity, recalling ancient walls covered with layers of painting that has peeled away over time to return them to their original state, but with remnants of their past remaining to tell their stories.