Jon Burgerman: Racing Lines

The Brooklyn-based artist's upcoming exhibition and workshop at London's prestigious Southbank Centre

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NYC-based artist Jon Burgerman will be taking a transatlantic flight back home for his upcoming show “Racing Lines” at London’s prestigious Southbank Centre, opening on 12 November 2013. Armed with pens and—sometimes digital—paint, Burgerman’s works are cartoonish and monstrous, colorful and enigmatic, all at the same time. His improvisational doodling is immediately recognizable and brings seriousness to the idea of play. For those of us who will unfortunately not be able to attend, Burgerman shared some of his artwork—and thoughts—from the upcoming exhibition.

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On the central figurative characters in “Racing Lines,” Burgerman says, “They are women I’ve seen on the internet. The internet, the net that curtains the world, that we can all peep through at any time we like. Behind the curtains are millions of humans desperate for us to see them and acknowledge them in some way. My way of acknowledgement is to turn them into drawings. It’s to say I’ve seen them, they’ve passed through my brain and come out again via my hand.” While focusing on main characters is a bit of a departure for Burgerman, it’s an evolution of his recent project, “Drawings of Girls I’ve Seen on Tumblr.”

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Burgerman continues, “I’ve been experimenting with adding figurative elements to my work, which is/was traditionally non-figurative. I want my drawn work and imagined ‘world’ to meet somewhere with the physical world. On one hand, I’m taking things from the physical world and entering it into my drawn world. On the other hand, I’m taking my drawn elements and depositing them amongst the physical. Somewhere they will meet and fuse and be as one, if only for a moment.”

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We asked Burgerman if there’s a notable cultural difference in audience reaction when showing his works in London versus New York: “I’m not really much of an illustrator, even if my work might have a strong graphical look to it. Perhaps that’s a difference; in Europe maybe my works are seen less as illustrations and more as art works. I could be wrong of course,” he says. “I think my work confuses some of my American audience, as it’s often loose, unpolished and rough, which they think translates to being unfinished and not ‘proper’ in some way. I don’t necessarily pursue a certain high level of finished-ness to my work, as that’s not really the point. In fact, I’m more satisfied if I can say what I want with as little ‘work’ as possible. This might possibly be related to my inherent laziness though.”

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On opening day of his show, Burgerman will also lead an evening workshop, titled “It’s Great To Create.” He describes what’s in store for those attending, and looking to be engaged and inspired: “In sharing my recent exploits and revelations, I address notions of failure, play, expectations and performance. There will be simple and fun drawing and art exercises along the way for the audience to try out during the evening. I hope it will inspire those that wouldn’t normally pick up a pen for doodling to do so.”

“Racing Lines” will be on exhibition at Southbank Centre’s Members Bar starting 12 November. Book a spot for the workshop with Burgerman on opening night for £15. Keep an eye out for Burgerman’s upcoming clothing collaboration with Frankfurt-based Lin Fashion next spring, which promises to be just as energetic and eye-catching as his artwork.

Images courtesy of Jon Burgerman