Brendan Stuart Burns, one of Wales’ leading contemporary artists, brings an impressive collection of work to Rosenberg & Co. for “Flow & Pulse,” his first solo show in the States. Through his paintings, drawings, and ceramic work, Burns explores our innate and intimate connection to the natural world.
Nature—particularly the Pembrokeshire coast in the British Isles—inspires Burns. His works may seem purely abstract, but they are informed by what he sees on regular walks along the shore. For instance, in the impasto smudges of pigment on his spare canvases and in the graded washes of ink in his drawings, he depicts the forests, rockfaces, tidal pools, and crashing waves where his homeland meets the powerful Atlantic Ocean.
Among the paintings included in this New York show is an oil and wax on linen piece called Sizzle (2015). Against a slate-gray background, thick patches of yellow, gold, brown, and white coalesce into loose, lattice-like patterns, calling to mind growth of lichen on boulders or the sea foam that remains on sand after a wave breaks and recedes back into the sea.
The artist’s ceramic pieces embody nature even more directly than his paintings. To make them, Burns presses wet sheets of clay into the crags and crevices of rocks, creating textured surfaces that he then finishes with pigmented markings, which suggest the organic growths that color a seaside rockface.
Burns aims to capture and convey the feelings these sights stir in him. “My work is not abstract in the formal sense,” he has said, “but it enjoys a relationship with ambiguity; it is concerned with inner emotion and the sensed experience of the viewer; it is about the contemplative and experience of self-reflection.”
“Brendan Stuart Burns: Flow & Pulse” is on view at Rosenberg & Co., New York, Apr. 7–Jun. 4, 2016.