Robert Burnier


Lives and works in Chicago, IL

Sculpting the path of a visual landscape by bending, shaping, and warping a material, Robert Burnier emphasizes a nonlinear, unpredictable relationship between one plateau of transformation and another. Materials offer resistance when manipulated, forcing him to navigate unknown territory through each object’s creation. The specific nature and preconfiguration of each material becomes a historical fact Burnier must wrestle with.


For titles, the artist often makes use of L. L. Zamenhof’s utopian language of Esperanto, developed in the late nineteenth century. Esperanto borrows from existing linguistic traditions in the hopes of providing a bridge for communication. This organic approach is appealing in its attempt at universality without erasure, not requiring a blank slate, just as Burnier begins with a set structure of material in the work. Failed utopias and the impossibility of communion with the absolute are not just philosophical but also practical concerns, in that they are apparitions haunting society.


The artist received his M.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute in Painting and Drawing in 2016. He also holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania (1991). Exhibitions include Rob Barnard, Robert Burnier & Julian Stair, at Corvi-Mora gallery, London, Song Cycle, at David B. Smith gallery Denver, CO, Temple at Andrew Rafacz Gallery, Chicago, Black Tibernius at the Chicago Riverwalk, Of No Particular King, at Arts Club of Chicago, Primary, at Korn Gallery, Drew University, New Jersey, Lip To My Ear, at Vacation Gallery, New York, Objectified, at Trestle Gallery, Brooklyn, So That Justice Should be Tyrant, at Andrew Rafacz Gallery, Ghost Nature, curated by Caroline Picard, at Gallery 400, Chicago, IL and La Box, Bourges, France, The Chicago Effect: Redefining the Middle at the Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL, Imaginary Landscapes, curated by Allison Glenn, at Chicago Urban Art Society and Jenny From the Color Block, at the Cincinnati Art Academy. Upcoming solo exhibitions include Massey Klein Gallery, New York City and Andew Rafacz, Chicago. His work has been exhibited at Frieze, London 2021 and other art fairs in Miami, New York, Chicago, Dallas and Copenhagen, Denmark. He has served on the boards of several arts organizations, including Heaven Gallery, Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, and Tiger Strikes Asteroid, Chicago.