Jesse Burke and George Schroeder
This dual solo show didn't offer any connections between Schroeder's slender sculptures and Burke's polished photos
Reviewed by Salvador Castillo, Fri., March 14, 2008
'Jesse Burke and George Schroeder'
4 Walls Fine Art, closed March 8
How does proximity affect your perception of two separate but related objects? The question came to mind upon visiting 4 Walls Fine Art's recent dual solo shows.
Photographs by Jesse Burke hung on most of the gallery walls. At first glance, they all seemed like run-of-the-mill, glossy-magazine photography. The black backgrounds were a deep shiny black, white backgrounds were a brilliant white, and the colors were well saturated. The compositions were laid out so that textures were even and portraits were well-cropped, but there was still vibrancy. With this language of commercialization, one expects the camera's subjects to be presented in the utmost positive light.
And yet there was no flash in the empty stares of such photos as Nectar Impérial, Nils, and Nectar Impérial, Carlo. In short, they were pathetic. Moving through familiar masculine tropes, like hunting and sports, did not elevate them into hero territory, and the Abercrombie look limited how much pity you could give them. So you were left looking with indifference at these spectacularly average images. Are they average because the setup is spectacular, or is the setup spectacular because the subjects are average?
Although not distinctly a separate show, George Schroeder's sculptures were integrated throughout the gallery. As you entered, you were confronted with a piece of large, black, balled-up steel in the round. The rivet elements described a steel construction beam, and the multiple points elicited a blackened flame. Along the far wall were other, smaller pieces. The rounded elements were definitely safer than sharp points, and the layering of elements gave them something of a modernist look. Kind of a pathetic one, at least when compared with the paintings on the wall.
The four paintings shared a lot of the same elements as the sculptures. Circles, tubular lines, and a number of layers were present within the frames. But where the metalsmithing gave the sculptures an industrial character, the more fluid shapes of the paintings allowed for freer association. Dare I say it? They looked urban, almost like graffiti. The steel was hard, cold, and close to being mere decoration, while the painted lines plotted out the shapes with zippy energy.
There didn't seem to be any connections between the two bodies of work. So taking the dual solo show as such denied the correlation of Burke's figures with Schroeder's sculptures. The stoic stance of the slender sculptures resonated with the paltry postures of the polished photos.