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Thomas Burke
The Hots

Tainted Love

I Want You to Want Me

Re-Animator Deluxe
by Eve Wood

Thomas Burke, Nov. 8-Dec. 27, 2003, at Western Project, 3830 Main Street, Culver City, Ca. 90232

Las Vegas artist Thomas Burke makes large, arduously painted acrylic-on-metal op-art canvases, which seethe like a veritable hothouse of color. Burke is a 3D abstractionist -- that is, he begins with a flashy and colorful grid-based design -- something akin to a cross between Tetris, the building-block video game, and a Navajo blanket -- and makes it appear to heave and swell. The works are done with grace and style, and impress with their supreme craftsmanship.

In Tainted Love, an epic 24 in. x 120 in. painting that is named after a song by the 1980s art-rock band Soft Cell, the brightly hued labyrinth of shapes seems to undulate and buck. Similarly, I Want You to Want Me, its title taken from a Cheap Trick song, resembles a waving ream of fabric.

Aside from their rock-inspired titles, there is also a musicality to these images. The deep, sonorous reds hold within them a quiet, more deliberate vibration, whereas Burke's whites are stark and unforgiving as all great whites should be.

Burke has a adventurous attitude towards color, dimension and space. Using only flat surfaces, he still achieves a real sense of deep distance, fluid movement and elegance.

EVE WOOD is the author of the book of poetry, Love's Funeral (Cherry Grove Collections, University of Cincinnati).