Elijah Burgher’s artwork indoctrinates viewers into a mystical cult of queer sexual energies. He produces small colored pencil drawings, as well as paintings of sigils on large canvas drop cloths. Burgher utilizes ideas from magick and the occult to address sexuality, sub-cultural formation and the history of abstraction. Citing 20th century occultist Austin Osman Spare’s system, he creates sigils—emblems to which magical power is imputed. By recombining the letters that spell out a wish into a new symbol, Burgher’s pictures of sigils literally encode desire while embodying it abstractly through shape, color and composition. Burgher’s drawings of nude men feature his friends and illustrate environments from his daily life, functioning as relics of rituals. They have a quasi-erotic quality, grounding the works’ more abstract components in the realm of reality. “At base, I want to know whether an artwork, any artwork, can possess meaning—to truly embody it somehow,” Burgher said.
Elijah Burgher was featured in the 2014 Whitney Biennial (selected by Anthony Elms), the 2014 Gwangju Biennial (as part of AA Bronson’s “House of Shame”), The Nothing That Is at the Contemporary Art Museum of Raleigh, North Carolina, and The Temptation of AA Bronson at the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam, among others. He was recently a resident at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and the Fire Island Artist Residency. Burgher His work has been discussed in The New York Times, Art in America, ArtReview, Artforum.com and was included in VITAMIN D2, the hardcover survey of contemporary drawing. He received a MFA from the School of the Art Institute, Chicago and a BA from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY. Elijah Burgher is represented by Western Exhibitions in Chicago and Horton Gallery in New York City. He lives and works in Berlin.