Michael Burges

„A work of art seems to me to be particularly successful when I don´t know exactly anymore what it´s about, and it´s still taking me captured.“

Born in Düsseldorf in 1954, the artist Michael Burges paints abstract color compositions that are characterized by brilliance and high-gloss haptics. His picture carrier is acrylic glass, which he paints from the back. Burges’ "Reverse Glass Paintings" deal with the laws and structures of nature, especially physics. His works include intensively colored reverse glass paintings as well as calm meditative gold leaf and silver leaf works with restrained coloration.

We wanted to get a deeper insight into sources of inspiration and working methods and asked some questions:

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What makes your current painting special?

For about ten years I have been doing paintings on glass surface and I call these paintings „Reverse Glass Paintings“. This kind of painting is basically a very old, traditional technique that is used relatively little in contemporary art.

How does this painting differ from conventional painting?

The painting process is inverted. What is in front comes first and the background is applied last, which means that the spatial staggering is quite difficult.

On the other hand, in this technique the colours remain very intense and the result is a precise insight into the picture. In classical painting, such as oil painting, the colours fade during the drying process. In reverse glass painting, on the other hand, they remain practically like wet paint and thus the colour gains an enormous intensity.

What is the function of the glass?

Aesthetically speaking, the pane functions both as a separation and as a portal. It breaks up the surface of the painting, creates distance and at the same time gives all structures and colours a high intensity and precision.

Besides colours you also use metal?

A large part of my work is now my metal works. Metal surfaces fascinate me in their pictoriallessness and yet their great presence, which comes from the material itself.

Time cannot really be represented in normal painting. However, the representation of processes of change is possible and I take this up in my metal paintings. The pictures change, they mature, so to speak.

Do you want to say something with your art?

I step back behind the process and the work.

There is no message, no narrative, similar to music. Yet the music has a strong presence and impact, that is what it is all about.

A work seems to me to be particularly successful when I no longer know exactly what it is about, and yet it captures me.

What do you deal with in painting?

I´m not interested in traditional painting, but in painting that takes place in a process and thus bears neither a personal signature nor a message.

In my artworks the means of painting, the material, is the actual actor. This means that I let the material present itself via physical or chemical structural processes and „perform“.

What challenges do you encounter in this process?

As already mentioned, classical painting behind glass has relatively great difficulties in representing three-dimensionality, because the background comes last and the foreground first. And you first have to get used to the inverted painting process.

Which techniques do you prefer?

I use techniques of colour pouring, chemical intervention and colour squeezing.

The special feature of these techniques is that there can be no plan. I present the colours and initiate the process, e.g. the colour squeezing, and leave everything to the events, the so-called coincidence. So I open the painting to the unforeseen and certain physical laws and step back in my personality.

The painting material is not only a medium for me, but the actual actor.

Which metals do you work with?

I use 23.75 carat gold, palladium, silver, copper and brass for my metal works.

My metal paintings have a leaf-related geometric grid, which is often somewhat broken up. These refractions result from disturbances that occur during the gluing process and are backed with colour. In addition, however, there is a second alchemical process: on the one hand the diffusion of the colours through the very thin metal leaf, and on the other hand the oxidation in the case of the metals silver, copper and brass.

This means that the pictures develop from within themselves. They are „self-emergent“, and realize their own hidden potential in time. In this way, time is conceptually included.

A very special meta-level is the relationship of the metals to light and reflection. They interact with their surroundings, they reflect and shimmer with the viewpoint of the viewer and are completely dependent on what the viewer does with them.


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