• Edwin Burdis Fermentation 09
    Title : Edwin Burdis Fermentation 09
  • Edwin Burdis 1
    Title : Edwin Burdis 1
  • Edwin Burdis 2
    Title : Edwin Burdis 2
  • Edwin Burdis 3
    Title : Edwin Burdis 3
  • Edwin Burdis 4
    Title : Edwin Burdis 4
  • Edwin Burdis 5
    Title : Edwin Burdis 5
  • Edwin Burdis Red Nail Wait 09
    Title : Edwin Burdis Red Nail Wait 09
  • Edwin Burdis X Table 09
    Title : Edwin Burdis X Table 09
  • Edwin Burdis Performance 1 1
    Title : Edwin Burdis Performance 1 1
  • Edwin Burdis Performance 2 1
    Title : Edwin Burdis Performance 2 1
  • WIG 0910 012
    Title : WIG 0910 012

Edwin Burdis presents Back, Sack and Crack (a work) and Home (a performance) at Max Wigram Gallery, review by Henry Little

On the same evening as ‘Fashion’s Big Night Out’, a rather dubious excuse for the fashion houses of Bond Street to toot their over-dressed, long-legged horns, Max Wigram Gallery hosted the opening of Edwin Burdis presents Back, Sack and Crack (a work) and Home (a performance). Filling the entire rear wall of the gallery, Back, Sack and Crack comprises 92 A5 drawings arranged in a single block, 4 rows by 32 columns. The aggressively simple approach to the display of these works seems to belie the carnivalesque parade of fleshy protuberances, penetrating blades and amorphous masses which populated their surfaces. Reading in an alogical sequence, with the works’ references and motifs forced into a strict grid-like pattern, gave the impression of a sexual appetite pressing at the seams of a containing structure. This, I feel, is the essence of the work: a conflict between the organic, voracious blobs, which give an insight into Burdis’ perception of his own lust, and the regimental layout which would otherwise imply rigid order, control and enclosure.

The frequent reappearance of metal blades in the drawings articulates a dialogue of penetration and its concomitant fantasies. While the sharp, tumescent blades spoke of the vicarious mental activity of arousal, the accompanying droopy, flaccid figures completed the predictable two part sequence familiar to all men. The psychosexual drama of this dialectic, established by the rigid and detumescent forms, is played out across the wall of the Max Wigram Gallery, interspersed with further unsightly and often perverse vignettes. The perversity is, however, elusive and exists in a liminal state. It is suggested by curvaceous bulges, sharp knives, dismembered voyeur’s eyes and strutting globules that enact a stream of associations in the mind of the viewer that one would rather not speak openly about. The inhabitants of Burdis’ imagination rub up against each other, posing, tottering, sagging, leering and lolling. Drawn in a cartoon-like style and coloured in searing, juicy luminescent tones that scream across the gallery, it’s clear that Burdis grew up in the ‘80s and is fully subscribed member of the MTV generation. Anyone familiar with the often startlingly grotesque series The Ren and Stimpy Show (1992 - 96) will be at home amid these images. There is a shared allegiance to indecent, abject imagery and the inherent humour to be found in bodily functions and sexual desires. Needless to say, the title of Burdis’ work is one which the writers of Ren and Stimpy would have been more than happy to adopt as one of their own.

The title, according to the press release, is intended to indicate the ‘physical and spiritual homogenisation of today’s image conscious society’. Seen in this guise the work is an incoherent and imperfect (but all the better for it) assault on the orthodoxy of physical beauty that on the same evening was so prevalent up and down the street, as sky-high models, wearing their grins of disdain, wobbled on stilettos to the Gucci store.

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