Richmond Art Center Richmond Art Center

David Burke: Solastalgia

David Burke: Solastalgia

Exhibition: June 28 – November 16, 2023 (galleries closed Fri, Nov 10 and Sat, Nov 11 for Veterans Day Weekend)
Reception: Saturday, July 15, 12pm-2pm | More info…
Gallery Walkthrough: Saturday, July 29, 12pm | More info…

Gallery Hours: Wednesday-Saturday, 10am-4pm
Richmond Art Center, 2540 Barrett Avenue, Richmond, CA 94804

David Burke: Solastalgia is the second solo show in Richmond Art Center’s Greenhouse Series and it basks in the glum glow of his nostalgic yet prophetic paintings and site-specific window treatments. Solastalgia is a form of homesickness one feels when a beloved environment is fundamentally altered into unfamiliarity. The exhibition includes exemplars of Burke’s iconic style, which welds the Anthropocene’s industrial production, ecological destruction, and potential regeneration. In steam-punkesque paintings such as Agent Orange and Ennuipocalypse, do we witness a forest supplanted by refinery pipelines or do the trees grow triumphantly from mechanical, technologic ruins? Burke paints the viewer into the crossroads of now, asking, “Which side are you on?” He answers, “Both.”

More recent paintings such as Mirage and Urban Oasis I imagine a vast sky/sea screen hoisted onto workers’ attention within capital’s machine, but Burke knows along with John Lennon’s song “Working Class Hero” how the heavy gears of labor can synch into the mind’s watery cogs and grant workers “no time instead of it all.” Time itself is here utilized as a painting technique. Look closely at the wavingly concentric geode- and aura-like ridges of evaporation that adorn the range of blues in the high-gloss screens. Burke puts the fun back into watching paint dry. He most fully explores desiccation and flood as means and meaning in Limbic Zone, which could appear to be an aerial photograph of extreme sea levels and oil spills coursing around burnt-sienna land masses. The artwork’s title brings to mind the mind and its areas most in control of behavior, emotion, and long-term memory. Are we witnessing a cross section of our future world or our psyche deep in climate grief? Again Burke replies, “Yes, both.”

David Burke’s latest painting series on display in Solastalgia reads as futuristic play structures. Site of utmost childhood joy, playgrounds take a tragicomic turn toward Burke’s all but patented manufactured, sylvan mind meld. The cheerful forms curdle into symbols for the harsh, toxic world we’re leaving children at the same time they suggest creative solutions future generations will find. The fantastical figures initially seem to stand before the starkness and palette of many midcentury science fiction book covers. On closer inspection and introspection, the background skies look like paused chemical reactions such as crystalization as well as like the way the greenhouse effect and climate crisis are generated by chemical compounds trapping light’s heat inside our atmosphere to a disastrous degree. The skies also evoke microscopic views of states of mind: solastalgia, climate grief, hope against hope. David Burke studies the prison cell in our cells and our celestial spheres. He sees an escape route and exclaims, “Paint! Keep it in the ground or in our art! But keep it out of the air!”

The Greenhouse is an exhibition series presented in Richmond Art Center’s West Gallery throughout 2023.  It focuses on the climate crisis and environmental justice movements in Richmond, CA. The greenhouse effect is a central metaphor for understanding the conditions that account for life on earth as well as how global warming and thus catastrophic climate change work.  In this three-part series, the art of Tanja Geis, David Burke, and Abi Mustapha together tell a story and activate an experience of resilience and growth, culminating in a celebration of local environmental activists. The Greenhouse is organized in partnership with Round Weather and curated by its director Chris Kerr.

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Richmond Art Center
2540 Barrett Avenue
Richmond, CA 94804-1600


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Gallery Hours: Wed-Sat 10am-4pm