Caren Golden Fine Art is pleased to present Slump, Tom Burckhardt’s fifth solo exhibition with the gallery. Burckhardt resumes his ongoing appraisal of his own practice and the sources of the creative impulse in his FULL STOP exhibition of 2005. Burckhardt, who has mounted numerous painting exhibitions, now asks the viewer to question whether his new works are paintings or sculptures; abstract or representational. The slumping “canvases” and artifacts from the studio are made of wood, cardboard and Variform (a synthetic modeling film) and painted with enamel. Each has a funky, hand-built approach, which simultaneously subverts a trompe l’oeil reading of the object and undercuts the air of self-importance associated with hermetic abstraction. While most painters tend to gravitate to one end of the spectrum or the other, Burckhardt chooses to conflate the two approaches, feeding off the charged relationship and reevaluating its boundaries. Is the paint bucket rendered as a representation and the canvas as an abstraction, or vice versa? In a sense this show is a restaging of the moment in art history when Pop Art challenged New York School abstraction for pictorial dominance. Here, however, rather than historicizing the issue, Burckhardt treats it as a personal drama, with humor and affection leading to reconciliation. The conflicting moods of sad sack pessimism and improbable optimism conspire to imply a state of exhaustion, revisiting the doubt displayed in FULL STOP. In Slump Burckhardt collapses the distance between the place of his paintings’ creation and the place of their exhibition – with sagging canvases propped on paint cans, crates and ladders. By doing so, Burckhardt rejuvenates these weary objects and invests them with optimism.
Burckhardt states: “Painting is not dead, but it can seem a bit beleaguered. As a young artist, my energy and idealism was unbounded. At this point, in middle age, I need to reignite my love of the act of painting. I want to have it all, and this form of artmaking is my way of having objective and abstract paintings co-exist in a unique way. Many people still come to a painting on the wall of a gallery and assume it has already achieved a certain level of authority. As an artist, I don’t always trust this relationship; if we beat down these preconceptions, perhaps a genuine optimistic space will be opened. By lowering the floor, you raise the ceiling.”
In 2005/2006, Tom Burckhardt’s FULL STOP was exhibited at Caren Golden Fine Art, NYC, DiverseWorks in Houston, TX and The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, CT. Burckhardt’s work has been praised in The New York Times, Art in America, ArtForum, ArtNews, Art & Antiques, Harper’s and The New Yorker, among others. He is a two-time recipient of the Pollack-Krasner grant.