O No One, O You, Around a Mortar of Fire
September 16 – October 29, 2022
Gallery One

Exhibition Text


ANDREW RAFACZ is pleased to announce O No One, O You, Around a Mortar of Fire, a solo exhibition of new sculptures from Robert Burnier in Gallery One. The exhibition opens Friday, September 16th and continues through Saturday, October 29th, 2022. This is the artist’s fifth exhibition with the gallery.

With O No One, O You, Around a Mortar of Fire, Robert Burnier presents a series of new wall-mounted sculptures, continuing his deeply layered investigations of form and color. Elegantly folded, distended, wrapped, stretched, or pushed inside out, his newest works continue to put forward a multitude of ideas through their formal and conceptual shifts.

The artist sees these works as transformations, lived experiences. From their beginnings as a flattened, two-dimensional area in metal, he uses his hands, pliers, planks of wood, body weight, and muscle to move them into a three-dimensional space. Burnier is not constructing or carving away, but calling forth their final state. The forms themselves manifest their histories of change.

The colors of ancient African, Mediterranean and Mesopotamian objects continue to yield inspiration for Burnier. They allow another kind of interaction with his sculpture, illuminating and altering his own understanding of their forms. Similar to the amalgamated aspects of his practice, the title of the exhibition is a combination of the poetry of Paul Celan and the prose commentaries of playwright Wole Soyinka.

Burnier explains, ‘the objects themselves have their inner demands, as do I. It is a communion of what is within and without, to understand each sovereignty, each being. For the past might be as different from now as we expect of the future, and we are the arch on the shifting ground between.’

ROBERT BURNIER (American, b. 1969) lives and works in Chicago, IL. He received his MFA from the School of the Art Institute in 2016 and a BS in Computer Science from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania in 1991. He has had recent solo exhibitions at Massey Klein Gallery (New York, NY), David B. Smith Gallery (Denver, CO), and The Arts Club of Chicago (Chicago, IL). Recent group exhibitions include Corvi-Mora (London, UK), Vacation (New York, NY), Korn Gallery at Drew University (Madison, NJ), Mana Contemporary (Chicago, IL), The Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, IL), and Elmhurst Art Museum (Elmhurst, IL). His concurrent solo exhibition O One, O None, Through the Night, is on view at blank projects (Cape Town, SA) September 22 through November 5, 2022. Burnier’s large-scale installation Black Tiberinus was on view on Chicago’s riverfront 2018-2019. He has exhibited at art fairs in New York, Miami, Chicago, London, Mexico City, Milan and Copenhagen. His wok is included in numerous public and private collections. This is his fifth solo exhibition with the gallery.