Tom Burr


Tom Burr

Work from Sentence at Bortolami Gallery.

“…One distinction of Burr’s work that persists is his consideration of the ephemeral. This interest extends beyond time to all sensory experiences, which must be transitory by nature. He describes individual sculptures as ‘moments’ and thinks of their varied qualities in terms of musical notes, temperatures, and moods—qualities that cannot be trapped into the permanency of an object, but may be somehow suggested.

Movies and sitcoms, like Men in Black and Bewitched, acknowledge the crux of the ephemeral by giving protagonists the unearthly power of being able to snare those moments. They stop time with a click, a twitch or a wiggle. Burr positions himself as this hero and casts the viewer as his sidekick. We walk into a room full of scattered objects, many of which appear to have been suddenly abandoned. It feels almost-familiar; you are in your neighbor’s bedroom, perhaps. The scale is human and humane and even in his most monumental works bears a direct proportional relationship to the spectator. Materials have a latent potential—the hinged figure could collapse flat, the shirt could fall, the bare wood could be painted, varnished or otherwise concealed.

A sense of timing lingers between the objects and their ownership remains ambiguous. It might appear that there is a story or scene involved—and in fact there may be. Or not. Officially, no specific narrative is ever revealed by the artist, no interpretation or assignation ever described as blatantly ‘wrong.’ The shirt or pants may have belonged to the artist, or his lover, or his father. The portraits may be devotionals culled from a fan’s stash of memorabilia—to Jim Morrison, Brad Davis, John Cage, Kate Bush, etc. Or they may be surrogates, stand-ins meant to represent elements of the artist himself, discrete clues about the artist’s own biography or experience.

The use of language enhances this ambiguity. Titles for works and for exhibitions are deliberately elusive, typically bearing many meanings and leaving the visitor to speculate which—if any—bear real significance. Sentence, sliver, silver, and so forth…” – Bortolami Gallery

Comments are closed.