Suddenly it was as though nothing had happened
October 18 through to November 13, 2019
“Brian was one of the most extraordinary artists to have come out of PEI...I have long admired Brian’s figurative paintings, which are both beautiful and dark. Burke was a genius at capturing psychological states of being through minimal means. Using thin washes of smoky colour, he created stark vignettes of brooding isolation, estrangement, and loneliness. I always wondered where these images came from.
…But in addition to its resonating content, Brian’s work is just great painting.”
Terry Graff, Director CEO Beaverbrook Art Gallery; former Director and Chief Curator, Confederation Centre Art Gallery, 2017
Studio 21 Director Deborah Carver recently visited Burke’s home in Murray Harbour PEI to select works for this exhibition. They represent a number of series made by the artist from 2003 to 2014. Taking a thematic idea from his painting “Suddenly It Was As Though Nothing Had Happened” (2007), the exhibition demonstrates the enigmatic nature of Burke’s works. They leave the viewer to fill in the off-canvas action that can be assumed by the gaze or the absence of the figure. As with all his paintings, the large spaces of canvas are gloriously but subtly animated with evidence of Burke's brush and hand.
Brian Burke was one of Canada’s foremost figurative painters. His paintings often consider basic questions of contemporary society, sometimes by poking fun. Born in Charlottetown PEI, Burke studied design at Holland College (1971-73), and Fine Art at Nova Scotia College of Art & Design (1974). He lived in PEI and Switzerland. Burke’s work was supported by the PEI Council of the Arts and the Canada Council for the Arts. It has been exhibited in numerous public galleries in group and solo exhibitions and at international art fairs and is in many collections in Canada, the U.S. and Europe. Burke completed a commission for the Confederation Centre Art Gallery (PEI) in 2005.
This exhibition is concurrent with the major retrospective of Burke’s painting at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Our thanks go out to Judith Scherer for her generosity and advice.
“My paintings are not about me; they are about you.”