Artist Andrew Burgess's fascination with buildings continues with this new series of large scale paintings that colourfully re-imagines some of the iconic masterpieces of early Twentieth Century modern architecture. Focussing on Bauhaus, De Stijl and other movements associated with the “International Style” Burgess has been selecting subjects for his paintings with the discernment of the portrait painter. Buildings are chosen for their clean lines, bold geometric design and dynamic forms. Burgess approaches his subjects with a fresh eye, simplifying forms even further and inventing, somewhat irreverently, new colour schemes that expand the modernist lexicon beyond the minimalist white palette and the rigid use of primary colours.
Whilst some of Burgess's subjects, such as Gerrit Rietveld's Schroder House or Pierre Koenig's Case Study House No. 22 are now world renowned examples of modern architecture, others are lesser known or even obscure masterpieces. For example Burgess has painted imaginative studies of the Austrian architect Lois Welzenbacher's Heyrovsky House and Rosenbauer House, both of which exhibit this architect's preference for dynamic curvilinear structures perched on the hillsides of the Austrian Tyrol. Starting with black and white images gleaned from his personal collection of antiquarian architecture books such as F.R.S. Yorke's “The Modern House” published in 1934, Burgess brings these and other houses to life for a contemporary audience with entirely invented colours and a painterly evocation of mood and place.
Titling his new series of work “The Painted Cube” Burgess has embarked upon a project that he anticipates will occupy him for several years, exploring in depth the genesis of modern architecture in Europe and the US and it's relationship to modern art, avant-garde design and abstract painting in particular.
“In some senses this project is a labour of love to record my own encyclopedia of early modern buildings and their designers. Despite the huge impact of early modern architecture, the innovative and subtle minimalist buildings that I am researching, with their concrete and steel frames, flat roofs and glass walls, never became the dominant mode of twentieth century building. We have continued to build the vast majority of houses in a traditional and conservative idiom, so that these great examples of modern architecture, designed by the likes of Gropius, Loos and Breuer to name but a few, are still shocking and surprising today in their boldness and modernity, almost a hundred years after they were built!”
By rediscovering and reinventing these architectural gems and bringing them to life again with the brush, Burgess is breathing fresh life into this critical area of modernism and deepening his own exploration of the meeting points between representation and abstraction.
Alongside the large scale paintings Burgess also has created a series of small collages which reflect his love of vintage graphics, particularly those from the 1930's to 1950's, a “golden age” in American graphic design and advertising. Burgess has been collecting vintage American ephemera for many years, delving around in the dusty recesses of antique malls and thrift stores. This ephemera is then unapologetically deconstructed, cut up into tiny pieces and reconstructed into visual and verbal poems; dazzling multi coloured pop art pieces. Burgess admits to being influenced by great pop artists such as Andy Warhol and our own Peter Blake, revelling in their sense of colour and celebration of imagery from the world of advertising and popular culture and also powerful emotions of memory and nostalgia.