BOBBIE BURGERS: The Lure of Magical Thinking
Bau-Xi Gallery, Vancouver
Dec. 11 to Dec. 24, 2014
By Beverly Cramp
"The Lure of Magical Thinking #1"
Bobbie Burgers, "The Lure of Magical Thinking #1," 2014, acrylic on canvas, 48” x 48”.
Known for her wildly coloured still life and landscape paintings, Bobbie Burgers’ latest exhibition includes works that are a departure from her signature canvases. She has forayed into new media, building on her nearly two-decades-long exploration of expressionistic and abstracted flowers in acrylic with mixed-media pieces and three bronze sculptures of roses. As she explains in her artist statement, she wants “to depict the beauty of life and its inherent complexities, without chaining it to the canvas’ surface.”
"Time is a Continuum"
Bobbie Burgers, "Time is a Continuum," 2014, acrylic on canvas, 36” x 36”.
The sculptures are long-stemmed roses caught askew as if someone has just flung them from a vase. They are well past their prime, a life stage that attracts Burgers. Mostly, they are balanced precariously on slightly flattened bottom flowers, but in one case two flower heads support the sculpture’s weight as a tripod with one stem. It’s a delicate construction. Like her paintings, the sculptures have an impressionistic quality. “It’s about the energy rather than precision,” she says.
The 3D quality of the mixed-media pieces is accentuated by the deep Plexiglas cases in which they are framed. Made with paper, gouache, acrylic paint and oil pastel, some pieces are pinned to a foundational canvas so they project outwards, allowing individual petals, flowers and leaves to float over the painted base.
Photo credit: Ted Clarke.
"Blue Anemones: Fluttered Staggered #2"
Bobbie Burgers, "Blue Anemones: Fluttered Staggered #2," 2014, mixed media, 60” x 50”.
The acrylic paintings on canvas show the progression in her work too. The brushstrokes are broader and looser, although the palette is still rich with brilliant colour. Large dollops of paint bulge out and create complex textures. “There have been stages in my progression,” says Burgers. “I started with smaller, more closed and precise painting.” Now, her work is loose and energetic to the point that drips are clearly evident, running to the end of some canvases. Close examination reveals sections that are abstracted beyond any representation of flowers. “I’m now using large paint brushes,” she says. “They force me to be gestural and immediate with my strokes.”
The evolution hasn’t been easy. “It has been a period of shedding my skin. It felt painful, this process of figuring out what I need to be doing. After long days working in the studio, I often spent a lot of time washing off canvases with the hose outside in the garden because I wasn’t getting what I wanted.” Burgers says she paints six or seven days a week regardless of what else is happening in her life. “It’s a continual challenge that happens every day.”