As a painter for more than forty years focused on the creative depiction of geological landforms, Philadelphia artist Diane Burko has an extraordinary ability to pictorially capture natural phenomena. An avid photographer as well as painter, Burko culls inspiration for her uniquely representational landscape paintings from firsthand viewpoints of outdoor settings often snapped from open doors of aircraft or on arduous hikes in treacherous terrain. In the words of New York Times art critic Benjamin Genocchio, Burko’s exhilarating works are “landscapes on the edge, or at least beyond our usual experience…”
Compellingly, Burko’s vigorous paint application and proficiency as a colorist imbues even the most representational scenes with unexpectedly abstract qualities, suffusing them with distinctive intimacy and power. In still woodland ponds, for example, she places dazzling emphasis on water’s mirror-like qualities of reflection; majestic waterfalls are resonant with sound and energy. Elsewhere, stark grids of green grass and brown dirt are juxtaposed with stretches of red earth to delineate areas of thrilling, lushly hued contrast. In this way, Burko initiates a dialogue between representation and abstraction, challenging our notions of their mutual exclusivity and instead affirming their ability to intersect purposefully and even necessarily. Her unique convergence of technical precision with emotional engagement renders the content of her often-epic canvasses less description of place and more experience of it.
Diane Burko’s artistic reputation is well-established with an extensive exhibition history that includes the Art Institute of Chicago, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Tang Museum, Aldrich Museum, James A. Michener Art Museum, Philadelphia Academy of the Arts, the Woodmere Art Museum, the National Academy of Sciences and Princeton’s Bernstein Gallery at the Woodrow Wilson School, among many others. Her works are held in numerous private and public collections including: the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Delaware Art Museum, and the Art Institute of Chicago.