Jon Burgerman (b. 1979 UK) is a New York-based British artist whose works have been acquired by prestigious public collections such as London's Victoria and Albert Museum and the OÖ-Kultur museum in Linz, Austria. His art has been described by critics as “goofy, bright, and intuitive, focused on the visceral energy of play as a tenet of communication” (Cate McQuaid, The Boston Globe).
Burgerman’s highly distinctive fuzzy-edged characters in day-glo bright pinks, yellows, greens and blues epitomise the paradoxes of contemporary life. Their seemingly simple googly eyes betray a range of emotional complexities and anxieties, with comically distressed expressions and collapsing forms underlined by titles such as Xanax, Dualist, Fortitude and Chameleon (2022).
At once friendly and scary, happy and sad, Burgerman achieves a form of emotional Cubism that relates directly to “a generational mental health crisis, [exacerbated] by climate anxiety, the pandemic, the narrowing of political choice and financial insecurity. And yet, there is always an elastic resilience, a wry smile, joy in the process and chance of hope” (Jon Burgerman personal statement 2022).
Each of Burgerman’s paintings reveals a studied balance of contrasts: hazy, indistinct huddles and isolated, lonely forms; crude graffitied marks versus fluid, soft forms achieved with an aerosol can. Improvised rhythms informed by electronic music permeate his works, creating staccato visual melodies that allow each work to perform satisfactorily to both eye and ear in a continuum of Miró and Kandinsky.
Burgerman has developed a new visual language all of his own, painting with a hitherto unknown simplicity and captivating optimism that allows his subjects to establish a remarkable immediacy and intimacy with his viewers, in the same vein Keith Haring mastered.
“I want to make expressive and open works, where the viewer can not only play with narrative strands suggested by the characters and forms but also emotionally connect with the textures, colours and very fabric of the painting itself.” Jon Burgerman, 2023.