Nudes in the Forest

Elijah Burgher vernisaj at Ivan Gallery in Bucharest

By Eugen Berlo

I had the pleasure of meeting and discussing with Elijah at his first show in Bucharest at IvanGallery the other day. Born in 1978, Kingston, NY, USA, he is an American artist in residency at Horton Gallery studio in Berlin, Germany. Burgher works with the language of mag­ic and the mystical seals and symbols to address sex­u­al­i­ty, the nude subject and its capacity to convey meaning. Most of his presented artworks are luscious prints on paper realized with handmade heavyweight paper stencils and printmaking techniques.

“Titles are important, they’re like breadcrumb trails. The nude is an age-old subject of art. Most crucially for me, the nude has frequently served as a vehicle for expressing love, desire, and beauty, as well as erotic frenzy, terror and pain. The sigils represent desire too, and, like an aroused or arousing nude, they appear in the red alphabet blushing, hot and bothered, full-frontal or spread-eagle, totally naked. I am hoping that the title will be reminiscent of the well-known Baudelaire poem, “Correspondences”, which features the phrase, “forêts de symboles,” usually translated into english as “symbol forest” or “forest of symbols,” but also “cabalistic wood.” I enjoy contemplating being lost in a forest of symbols, of going for a walk in Grunewald, for instance, and seeing the tree branches spell out strange signs, or, alternatively, experiencing Kottbusser Tor, so full of blinking signage, as a wilderness, a place in which to lose oneself. Chants, of course, are simple, repetitive songs or intonations used in ritual. I enjoy the implication that the Chants are the voices of the Nudes, or that there are chanting voices in the forest.“ (Elijah Burgher)