February 8, 2014

“Flayed Front” (2013), oil on cast plastic by Tom Burckhardt, echoes the lathe-turned look Fernand Leger often employed.

Burckhardt puts own stamp on eccentric abstractions at Lind

A stirring selection of New Yorker Tom Burckhardt’s peculiar abstractions hangs at the Gregory Lind Gallery. You can sense something odd about their physical tone, but the paintings seem wholehearted as eccentric abstractions seldom do these days.

Burckhardt works on panels of plastic that he casts to simulate stretched canvases, down to having fake wood grain and canvas tacks painted on their faux strainer bars.

In an art world marinating in irony, Burckhardt apparently finds this methodical inauthenticity a prerequisite to meaning what he paints, or to overcoming doubt about unconsciously failing to mean it.

“Flayed Front” (2013) has reminiscences of the lathe-turned look Fernand Leger often gave to his painted forms. Passages in it recall the carpentered compositions of Frank Stella’s shaped canvases, and like other paintings here, “Flayed Front” has the spooky precision of work by a Chicago “monster roster” artist such as Ray Yoshida (1930-2009).

Burckhardt embeds these allusions so deeply in his work that they probably come as discoveries to him as well as the works’ viewers. Despite its high formal definition, his work has a seeming freedom from contrivance that marks it as the output of a mature practitioner.

Burckhardt makes abstraction his own in a manner and to an extent that will leave visitors to this show looking forward to his next.