The exhibition Birth of Serpents presents new works by Sebastian Burger, produced over the past year. The title comes from the eponymous 2011 song by the American band The Mountain Goats. The lyrics of the song speak of the quest for memories, delving into one’s personal past and the self: „See that young man who dwells inside his body like an uninvited guest“. In this new series Sebastian Burger explores the ideas of physicality, dissolution and renewal – not unlike how a snake sheds its skin.
Objects arranged in still lifes, fragmentary landscapes and cartoonish, martial characters permeate and complement each other throughout the compositions. The paintings’ subjects evoke individually charged associations depending on the viewer or context, yet still evading complete decryption. Sebastian Burger’s visual vocabulary draws on both that of Pop Art – in particular the work of James Rosenquist – as well as cinema. The aggressive archetypal figures e.g. clad in biker and bomber jackets can be traced back to underground cinema classics such as Scorpio Rising (1964) by Kenneth Anger or more recent: the neo-noir thriller Drive (2011) by Nicolas Winding Refn. When the fractures deem perilous, Sebastian Burger inserts ironic breaks. The effect of both the resolution and color in his work creates a direct anology between painting and film. The over-exposure and illuminated quality of 16 mm film finds its counterpart in the intensity of the many superimposed layers of paint and their colors.
Sebastian Burger combines illusionism with flatness, transparency with opacity and color with contour: the paradigms of painting. In accordance to the idea that a painting is a structure consisting of inner as well as outer references, the lyrics form an extra-pictorial passage that accompanies the work.
Marijana Schneider (Museum der Moderne, Salzburg), 2016