Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Lure of Paradise: J.T. Burke's Worlds

The lobster & canary encountered the worlds of J.T. Burke-- and had a chance to briefly meet the artist himself-- two weeks ago at The Artist Project show at Pier 92 in NYC. We have not stopped thinking about those worlds since.

Burke, a successful commercial/advertising photographer, turned to his art full-time in 2006. His technique is a blend of the old and the new: he scours flea markets and estate sales for jewelry and gewgaws (preferably with some wear and tear), then arranges these items into phantasmagorical landscapes, photographs the image, and finally distorts and alters the image digitally.

The jewelry and bric-a-brac he uses are ornate, baroque, all those animals that live as brooches on lapels, the bees and hummingbirds, the lions and tigers. Originally shiny, garish, out-sized, having now acquired a patina from use, the creatures come alive under Burke's tutelage.

The resulting vistas swarm and seethe with strange life. They evoke rococo wall-paper and Bosch's tryptichs, psychedelic errata, the half-melted landscapes of Max Ernst, and the infinities of mandalas. They pull the viewer into their bizarre but unthreatening beauty. Bravo J.T. Burke-- click here for more on his work.

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