Work by Leigh Burton and Wendy Hirschberg
July 8 - September 12, 2004
Diminutive tableaux bathed in a harsh light. Furniture carefully arranged, as if
for a ritual: tea or torture? These odd groupings of anthropomorphic furniture,
cowering under scrutiny, seem pinned by the light like a butterfly to a board. One wonders,
will the descending chandelier crush the chairs or the divan, or embrace and envelop them?
If the main presence in the paintings is not a lumbering light fixture, then it is a large blank mirror,
absorptive, reflecting nothing. Burton's paintings of "ballrooms," "dressing rooms," and "hallways" are
delicate, almost ladylike, redolent of her southern girlhood, yet lit with unease. Her flat sense of
space and tiny settings present appealing, powdery surfaces that serve almost as a skin upon her
theatrical compositions. They are evocative of Florine Stettheimer's paintings minus the celebratory
Hirschberg's list of materials reads like the insides of a makeshift toolbox:
washers, rivets, fish line, cardboard, rubber, metal, Plexiglas rods, wood, and wire.
Seemingly offhand, casual, the sculptures are consciously, painstakingly constructed.
They cascade and tumble, thrust from the wall like sprung jack-in-the-boxes. More architectural
than Burton's paintings, they look like maquettes for the debris of human interactions: Lilliputian
meeting rooms, waiting rooms, a doctor's office, or a conference room. The furniture in Hirschberg's
"sites" is small enough to fit inside a dollhouse, but these "sites" are exposed, unsafe, having only
the flimsiest of partial structures or platforms on which to sit. As Hirschberg's titles for other works,
called "Incidents," reveal, all is not well in the trajectory of her urban fragments.
Both Burton's and Hirschberg's works are funny looking, even a bit goofy, yet rimmed with pathos.
Simultaneously, they are charged with the presence of absence: abject interiors - slight and vulnerable,
existing in attenuated, dreamy space. Everything they create seems as if it could fall apart or be crushed
underfoot in an instant. Hirschberg and Burton both use muted color, subtle shifts; these are noiseless
chambers, muffled works - empty of those who occupied the chairs, climbed the stairs, or turned on the
lights. These are the remains, the aftermath.