His beat is Pop Geometry, a form that encompasses everything from collage to oil on canvas and which is devised by channeling everyone from Dadaists to Diebenkorn. As the name suggests, it is bold, it is acute, and it is rooted in thousands of years of now. It also happens to be a singular creation of one singular sensationalist.
We speak of British-born, Tuscon-based Andy Burgess, whose wonders can be beheld via The Cynthia Corbett Gallery of London. Arte Fuse got with the Pop Geometer in advance of the inaugural Art Miami New York; here’s what he had to say:
In a sentence or three, could you please define/describe Pop Geometry?
Pop Geometry signifies the coming together of different influences on my work – Pop Art with its mash up of styles, bright colors and references to popular culture. My collage in particular references a golden age of American advertising and graphic design from the 1930s to the 1960s with its witty typographic flourishes and stylish Art Deco influences. The geometric impulse which is found in everything I do is a product of my ongoing fascination and with early Twentieth Century Art Movements, from Cubism to De Stijl, Bauhaus and Russian Constructivism.
If bidden to narrow things down to a Big 3, who might you say would be its Holy Trinity?
That’s almost impossible to answer but I’ll give it a go: Picasso for his ceaseless invention, Matisse for his color and design, and Mondrian for his reduction of the picture plane to the simplest elements of form.
Might there also be a Mother to this Father, Son and Holy Ghost?
Sonia Delaunay might bring some much needed circularity to this male dominated world of squares, rectangles and straight lines!
How about offspring?
Well there are some important uncles I have to mention, none more so than Kurt Schwitters, the father of Twentieth Century collage! But as for offspring let’s say that David Hockney took all that color and fabulous drawing and flew off to California paving the way for my own transcontinental migration many years later!
Which of the above might you say opened your eyes to the charms of matchbooks (and likewise-sized ephemera)?
Schwitters is the single biggest influence on my art – the sublime beauty that can come from making art out of trash, found objects, dirty bits of paper and ephemera. The Cubists started it, Schwitters owned it and a lot of the pre and post war British Modernists embraced collage as an art form. Oh, and then there’s Robert Motherwell too!
And to the beauty of the buildings of The Bauhaus?
I love so much of what came out of The Bauhaus – and especially the color work of Ittens and Albers and Paul Klee, but I have also come to appreciate the clean lines and beautiful proportions of Bauhaus architecture. I like the lack of fuss and decoration, the intersecting planes and open plan interiors. Mondrian paintings in three dimensions.
How’d you get from matchboxes to Bauhaus buildings anyway?
Well it’s not such a leap – I’m crazy about Dada as well as Bauhaus and these two movements dovetailed in Europe and Berlin after World War I. If you add Duchamp and the “ready-made” to Cubism and Kandinsky you get Dada. Dada gave birth to collage with text and type. Bauhaus was the home of International Style architecture. I’m like a water skier who insists on staying on two skies! One is Dada, Schwitters, Merz, ephemera, graphic design and the other is Mondrian, Reitveld, Gropius and Mies Van de Rohe and all that jazz. I need both!
Will the former eventually give way to the latter as you build up The Painted Cube?
You see, The Painted Cube is both! Paintings of buildings and geometric collages – abstract shapes in color. Currently I use found and vintage paper in my collages, but I also use hand painted paper – so, like Japser John’s flag, they are both collage and painting! There will always be both.
Speaking of The Painted Cube, would it be fair to say it’s kind of the Pop Geometry equivalent of Vasari’sLives (had the Lives been concerned solely with 20th architecture)?
I’ve been studying modern architecture just because it interests me. I like being a student. Studying, making notes, drawing, putting together the narrative. So I’m working my way through the buildings and architecture that I admire. It’s not particularly scientific – I just follow my interests and instincts. But thanks for the comparison – I’ll take it!
What (other) Great Books have you turned to for inspiration with the new series?
I do love collecting exhibition catalogues – and the recent Diebenkorn catalogue for the Berkeley Years that was produced by SF Moma was fantastic. I’m a crazy book collector and I’m always having to build new bookshelves! I particularly love collecting books on the St. Ives artists – a major movement within British modern art – influenced by the wonderful light and color of this famous fishing/surfing/art community on the Cornish coast.
Might we one day see something encyclopedic from you entitled The Painted Cube?
Well I don’t want to say too much but there is a big book project in the works – hopefully it will be out in 2016 to celebrate twenty years of art-making! A retrospective of sorts but not encyclopedic!
If you were forced to hazard a guess, which building’s re-rendering might grace the cover?
Well I’m pretty in love with Richard Neutra’s Kaufman House in Palm Springs and the whole West Coast mid-century modernism vibe.
Will the world get to see said painting at the inaugural Art Miami New York?
Yes! I have painted a new Kaufman House oil on canvas especially for AMNY! And I’m really happy with it. I’m also bringing some brand new collages – more intensely colorful than previous ones – very geometric, very abstract, very pop! Can’t wait to get them all on the walls!
Interview by John Hood
Photography provided by the artist