Robert Burnier

“The Sea, Facing Gibraltar”

05.06.24 - 27.07.24

Tommaso Corvi-Mora is delighted to present a solo exhibition of new work by Robert
Burnier, his first at the gallery. The artist has written recently:
“I regard the folded and compressed forms of my work as phenomena of material
and choice, retaining a record of their own emergence in how the material holds touch.
Each move is informed by another, and color transforms this sculptural experience.
While there are sources of inspiration, the process is still a new problem in and of itself,
not primarily a representation. To relive each sculptural work through color allows me
to ask questions of becoming, identity, encounter and transformation. They are more
experiences than abstractions, seeking a parallel dance between diasporic African and
Western cosmologies.
With these works, I continue my project of interpreting the hues of ancient African,
Mediterranean and Mesopotamian objects. The Bull’s head from Xerxes’ Hundred
Columns Hall, the Qustul incense burner from Nubia, and faience ceramics of ancient
Egypt, for example, are housed at the Institute for the Study of Ancient Cultures in my
hometown of Chicago. My frequent visits there have deeply affected my sense of
color, prompting considerations of its relationship to the movement of peoples.
The titles for my work, in Esperanto, are fragments drawn from the objects I’ve
observed, the mythologies I consider, and quotations from Nigerian playwright Wole
Soyinka’s poetry. I see his work as contemplating what he calls the chthonic forces of
the cosmos, for which culture is a response, if not a representation. The fundamental
nature of this response, an emergence of material and spirit in co-creation, is an
abiding concern for my practice.”
Robert Burnier received an MFA in Painting and Drawing from The School of the Art
Institute of Chicago in 2016 after having previously graduated with a BS in Computer
Science from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania in 1991. He has been a
Departmental Specialist Technician for European Painting and Sculpture at The Art
Institute of Chicago since 2006 and serves as a board member for Intuit: The Center
for Intuitive and Outsider Art, Heaven Gallery, and Tiger Strikes Asteroid (where he was
a founding member). Recent exhibitions include blank projects (Cape Town, SA),
Massey Klein Gallery (New York, NY), David B. Smith Gallery (Denver, CO), and The Arts
Club of Chicago (Chicago, IL). Robert Burnier is Assistant Professor of Painting and
Drawing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
The gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday, 11 am to 6 pm.
For further information or photographic material please email