ESSAYS ON ART > Celestial and Terrestrial
Celestial and Terrestrial: Works by Victoria Burge and Robert Murray
at the New Arts Program in Kutztown, PA
From the mid-nineteenth century to the present day, modern artists exploring abstraction have found inspiration in the natural world. Through observing landscapes, rivers and streams, and the sky, artists have re-imagined the phenomena of nature in terms of line, gesture and hue. Looking at the work of Victoria Burge and Robert Murray, one sees these artists as both grounded in and inspired by the natural world, but they each take this as a point of departure. Their goal is not create a postcard representation, but to investigate the possibilities of painting and drawing.
Victoria Burge’s work often explores the celestial realm, with intricate constellations of lines and shapes, marks and color. Sometimes using old, found maps as the basis for her painting and drawing, she works up layers of ink, gouache and pencil to create new universes of stars and planets. Her paintings have a lushness and depth that recall the atmospheric skeins of paint and the far-reaching space of the color field painters. These paintings remind us that black, white, and gray are indeed colors, and have great emotional resonance and evocative power. The delicate drawing invites close study and careful exploration.
This selection of Robert Murray’s work includes paintings and prints inspired by the landscape as seen from the air. During his many decades of flying his own plane, Murray often photographed the earth below. Using a selection of these photos as reference, he simplified the landscape to reveal the essential gestures and shapes in deft, spare drawings. He has used these images in a series of monochromatic paintings, woodblock prints and low-relief metal sculptures that continue the exploration of color and form that have been strong themes of his work in sculpture over the last six decades.
Catalog essay, March 2019