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Elijah Burgher
Mary Amongst the Ruins (after Mantegna), 2021
colored pencil and watercolor on paper
44 1/2 x 44 7/8 ins.
113 x 114 cm

Elijah Burgher
Mary Amongst the Ruins (after Mantegna), 2021
colored pencil and watercolor on paper
44 1/2 x 44 7/8 ins.
113 x 114 cm

P·P·O·W is pleased to present Queen of the Forest, Elijah Burgher's first solo exhibition with the gallery. Using painting and drawing, Burgher works at the crossroads of representation and language, figuration, and abstraction, and the real and imagined. Inspired by the literary and visual culture of the early 20th century occult revival and the reconstructed paganism of the 1960s, Burgher’s Queen of the Forest synthesizes a variety of magical and artistic philosophies regarding language, mythology, and desire to generate his highly personalized mystical iconography.  

With a series of new, large-scale drawings, Burgher returns to in-depth figuration after five years cultivating a remarkably intimate code of sigils, emblems, and abstraction. Drawing from mythology, ancient history, the occult, and ritual magick, Burgher describes Queen of the Forest as being made “under the sign of Cybele.” Cut from equally scaled rolls of watercolor paper, the drawings emphasize a freer mark-making and represent fragmentary notes for a temple dedicated to the ancient archetypal dyad of the Mother Goddess and Son-Lover. Influenced by Robert Graves' The White Goddess, Burgher’s Queen of the Forest examines the bond between this buried pagan relationship, specifically the Mountain Goddess Cybele and her son and lover Attis, and its ties to sacred calendars and the cycles of nature. Often pictured wearing a mural crown and riding a chariot drawn by two lions, Cybele, also known as the Magna Mater or Great Mother, reifies nature in all its fecundity, sexuality, wonder, and violence. Accompanying this mythos is Cybele’s son Attis, an agrarian deity in his own right who was ritually sacrificed in the spring by being hung from a pine tree and castrated, his severed genitals serving to fertilize the earth.

Dedicating the exhibition to Cybele, Burgher depicts the Goddess multiple times throughout Queen of the Forest, exposing how Christianity absorbed and recoded pagan beliefs. In The Green Child, 2021, Burgher recasts the figures in Sandro Botticelli’s Virgin and Child with the Infant St. John the Baptist, c. 1490, as Cybele, Attis, and the satyr Marsyas. In Cybele Exits Rome (after Mantegna), 2021, Burgher reinterprets the exultant military procession of Andrea Mantegna’s The Triumphs of Caesar, 1484–1492, depicting Cybele’s bust being wheeled into Rome by Julius Caesar’s forces and then back out into the woods by a jubilant parade of satyrs and nymphs. Recontextualizing this mythic couple of Lover and Beloved, Burgher furthers his exploration into the personal and cultural dynamics of desire, love, renewal, and subcultural formation.

In addition to this latest series of drawings, Queen of the Forest also includes Burgher’s large-scale abstract paintings on drop cloth canvases and works on paper featuring his unique lexicon of sigils. Both decidedly ritualized and extremely physical, Burgher creates a ceremonial circle by placing the canvases on the floor of his studio before painting atop them. With these works, Burgher endeavors to capture how a body’s feelings, reactions, and desires can be transmitted to an inanimate object in a specific moment in time. As Burgher explains, these works function “as both portable temples—spaces for conducting rituals—and artifacts of the rituals,” also acting as “soft architecture” that divides the gallery and guides the viewer through the ‘forest’ of this exhibition. Bringing together these bodies of work, Queen of the Forest unveils a personal, art historical, and fantastical symbology through which Burgher grapples with daily human experience.

Elijah Burgher
Alphabet, 2021
ink, watercolor and acrylic on paper
40 1/8 x 28 3/4 ins.
102 x 73 cm

Elijah Burgher
Alphabet, 2021
ink, watercolor and acrylic on paper
40 1/8 x 28 3/4 ins.
102 x 73 cm

Elijah Burgher (b. 1978) lives and works in Berlin. He received an MFA from the School of the Art Institute, Chicago and a BA from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. His work was featured in Scrivere Disegnando: When Language Seeks Its Other at Centre d'Art Contemporain Genève, Geneva, Switzerland, 2020; Drawn Together Again, FLAG Art Foundation, New York, NY, 2019; For Opacity: Elijah Burgher, Toyin Ojih Odutola, and Nathaniel Mary Quinn at the Drawing Center, 2018; Elijah Burgher: Four Paintings, LAXART, Los Angeles, CA, 2018; the Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, 2014; Burning Down the House, the Gwangju Biennale, Gwangju, Republic of Korea, 2014; and The Temptation of AA Bronson, Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam, Holland, 2013, among others. He has completed residencies at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and the Fire Island Artist Residency. His work has been reviewed in The New York Times, Art in America, Art Review and Artforum, among others.

Exhibited Works

Exhibited Works Thumbnails
Elijah Burgher Lord of Failure, 2018

Elijah Burgher
Lord of Failure, 2018
arcylic on canvas
120 x 120 ins.
304.8 x 304.8 cm

Elijah Burgher Polyphemus, 2019

Elijah Burgher
Polyphemus, 2019
colored pencil on paper
17 1/2 x 13 1/2 ins.
44.5 x 34.3 cm

Elijah Burgher Eden Eden Eden Eden Eden, 2018-20

Elijah Burgher
Eden Eden Eden Eden Eden, 2018-20
acrylic and ink on canvas drop cloth
141 3/4 x 106 1/4 ins.
360 x 270 cm

Elijah Burgher Alphabet, 2021

Elijah Burgher
Alphabet, 2021
ink, watercolor and acrylic on paper
40 1/8 x 28 3/4 ins.
102 x 73 cm

Elijah Burgher Rose Quartz Mary (after Mantegna), 2021

Elijah Burgher
Rose Quartz Mary (after Mantegna), 2021
colored pencil and watercolor on paper
54 x 44 7/8 ins.
137 x 114 cm

Elijah Burgher Thrice Great God, 2019

Elijah Burgher
Thrice Great God, 2019
watercolor, colored pencil and collage on paper
11 1/2 x 8 ins.
29.2 x 20.3 cm

Elijah Burgher You Become Me & I Become You, 2019

Elijah Burgher
You Become Me & I Become You, 2019
watercolor, colored pencil and collage on paper
11 1/2 x 8 ins.
29.2 x 20.3 cm

Elijah Burgher At the Heart of the Woods, 2019

Elijah Burgher
At the Heart of the Woods, 2019
watercolor, ink, colored pencil and collage on paper
11 1/2 x 8 ins.
29.2 x 20.3 cm

Elijah Burgher The Releaser, 2019

Elijah Burgher
The Releaser, 2019
watercolor, colored pencil and collage on paper
11 1/2 x 8 ins.
29.2 x 20.3 cm

Elijah Burgher The Cursed Flute, 2019

Elijah Burgher
The Cursed Flute, 2019
watercolor, ink, colored pencil and collage on paper
11 1/2 x 8 ins.
29.2 x 20.3 cm

Elijah Burgher Day of Blood, 2021

Elijah Burgher
Day of Blood, 2021
colored pencil and watercolor on paper
63 1/4 x 44 7/8 ins.
160.5 x 114 cm

Elijah Burgher Polyphemus Spying on Galatea and Acis, 2021

Elijah Burgher
Polyphemus Spying on Galatea and Acis, 2021
colored pencil and watercolor on paper
59 1/8 x 44 7/8 ins.
150 x 114 cm

Elijah Burgher Cybele Exits Rome (after Mantegna), 2021

Elijah Burgher
Cybele Exits Rome (after Mantegna), 2021
colored pencil and watercolor on paper
two sheets, each:
44 7/8 x 70 5/8 ins.
114 x 179.5 cm

Elijah Burgher Scrapped Self, 2018

Elijah Burgher
Scrapped Self, 2018
acrylic on canvas
120 1/8 x 120 1/8 ins.
305 x 305 cm

Elijah Burgher Escaping Muses (after Lorenzo Lotto), 2021

Elijah Burgher
Escaping Muses (after Lorenzo Lotto), 2021
colored pencil and watercolor on paper
44 7/8 x 74 1/4 ins.
114 x 188.5 cm

Elijah Burgher Apollo Flaying Marsyas (after Antionio de Bellis), 2021

Elijah Burgher
Apollo Flaying Marsyas (after Antionio de Bellis), 2021
colored pencil and watercolor on paper
70 1/2 x 44 1/2 ins.
179 x 113 cm

Elijah Burgher Alphabet (the Pine, the Blood, the Violets), 2021

Elijah Burgher
Alphabet (the Pine, the Blood, the Violets), 2021
ink, watercolor and acrylic on paper
triptych, each:
16 1/8 x 12 1/4 ins.
41 x 31 cm

Elijah Burgher Mary Amongst the Ruins (after Mantegna), 2021

Elijah Burgher
Mary Amongst the Ruins (after Mantegna), 2021
colored pencil and watercolor on paper
44 1/2 x 44 7/8 ins.
113 x 114 cm

Elijah Burgher Cybele (after Mantegna), 2020

Elijah Burgher
Cybele (after Mantegna), 2020
colored pencil and watercolor on paper
59 1/2 x 44 1/2 ins.
151 x 113 cm

Elijah Burgher Queen of Cups, 2019

Elijah Burgher
Queen of Cups, 2019
watercolor, colored pencil and collage on paper
16 1/4 x 11 ins.
41.3 x 27.9 cm

Elijah Burgher The Green Child (after Botticelli), 2021

Elijah Burgher
The Green Child (after Botticelli), 2021
colored pencil and watercolor on paper
64 1/8 x 44 7/8 ins.
163 x 114 cm

Elijah Burgher Jonathan-Hecate (after Blake), 2021

Elijah Burgher
Jonathan-Hecate (after Blake), 2021
colored pencil and watercolor on paper
44 7/8 x 68 7/8 ins.
114 x 175 cm

Elijah Burgher Orpheus Still Sings, 2021

Elijah Burgher
Orpheus Still Sings, 2021
colored pencil and watercolor on paper
59 1/4 x 44 7/8 ins.
150.5 x 114 cm

Elijah Burgher The Perineum is the Door!, 2018-20

Elijah Burgher
The Perineum is the Door!, 2018-20
acrylic and ink on canvas drop cloth
141 3/4 x 106 1/4 ins.
360 x 270 cm

Elijah Burgher Lord of Failure, 2018

Elijah Burgher
Lord of Failure, 2018
arcylic on canvas
120 x 120 ins.
304.8 x 304.8 cm

Elijah Burgher Polyphemus, 2019

Elijah Burgher
Polyphemus, 2019
colored pencil on paper
17 1/2 x 13 1/2 ins.
44.5 x 34.3 cm

Elijah Burgher Eden Eden Eden Eden Eden, 2018-20

Elijah Burgher
Eden Eden Eden Eden Eden, 2018-20
acrylic and ink on canvas drop cloth
141 3/4 x 106 1/4 ins.
360 x 270 cm

Elijah Burgher Alphabet, 2021

Elijah Burgher
Alphabet, 2021
ink, watercolor and acrylic on paper
40 1/8 x 28 3/4 ins.
102 x 73 cm

Elijah Burgher Rose Quartz Mary (after Mantegna), 2021

Elijah Burgher
Rose Quartz Mary (after Mantegna), 2021
colored pencil and watercolor on paper
54 x 44 7/8 ins.
137 x 114 cm

Elijah Burgher Thrice Great God, 2019

Elijah Burgher
Thrice Great God, 2019
watercolor, colored pencil and collage on paper
11 1/2 x 8 ins.
29.2 x 20.3 cm

Elijah Burgher You Become Me & I Become You, 2019

Elijah Burgher
You Become Me & I Become You, 2019
watercolor, colored pencil and collage on paper
11 1/2 x 8 ins.
29.2 x 20.3 cm

Elijah Burgher At the Heart of the Woods, 2019

Elijah Burgher
At the Heart of the Woods, 2019
watercolor, ink, colored pencil and collage on paper
11 1/2 x 8 ins.
29.2 x 20.3 cm

Elijah Burgher The Releaser, 2019

Elijah Burgher
The Releaser, 2019
watercolor, colored pencil and collage on paper
11 1/2 x 8 ins.
29.2 x 20.3 cm

Elijah Burgher The Cursed Flute, 2019

Elijah Burgher
The Cursed Flute, 2019
watercolor, ink, colored pencil and collage on paper
11 1/2 x 8 ins.
29.2 x 20.3 cm

Elijah Burgher Day of Blood, 2021

Elijah Burgher
Day of Blood, 2021
colored pencil and watercolor on paper
63 1/4 x 44 7/8 ins.
160.5 x 114 cm

Elijah Burgher Polyphemus Spying on Galatea and Acis, 2021

Elijah Burgher
Polyphemus Spying on Galatea and Acis, 2021
colored pencil and watercolor on paper
59 1/8 x 44 7/8 ins.
150 x 114 cm

Elijah Burgher Cybele Exits Rome (after Mantegna), 2021

Elijah Burgher
Cybele Exits Rome (after Mantegna), 2021
colored pencil and watercolor on paper
two sheets, each:
44 7/8 x 70 5/8 ins.
114 x 179.5 cm

Elijah Burgher Scrapped Self, 2018

Elijah Burgher
Scrapped Self, 2018
acrylic on canvas
120 1/8 x 120 1/8 ins.
305 x 305 cm

Elijah Burgher Escaping Muses (after Lorenzo Lotto), 2021

Elijah Burgher
Escaping Muses (after Lorenzo Lotto), 2021
colored pencil and watercolor on paper
44 7/8 x 74 1/4 ins.
114 x 188.5 cm

Elijah Burgher Apollo Flaying Marsyas (after Antionio de Bellis), 2021

Elijah Burgher
Apollo Flaying Marsyas (after Antionio de Bellis), 2021
colored pencil and watercolor on paper
70 1/2 x 44 1/2 ins.
179 x 113 cm

Elijah Burgher Alphabet (the Pine, the Blood, the Violets), 2021

Elijah Burgher
Alphabet (the Pine, the Blood, the Violets), 2021
ink, watercolor and acrylic on paper
triptych, each:
16 1/8 x 12 1/4 ins.
41 x 31 cm

Elijah Burgher Mary Amongst the Ruins (after Mantegna), 2021

Elijah Burgher
Mary Amongst the Ruins (after Mantegna), 2021
colored pencil and watercolor on paper
44 1/2 x 44 7/8 ins.
113 x 114 cm

Elijah Burgher Cybele (after Mantegna), 2020

Elijah Burgher
Cybele (after Mantegna), 2020
colored pencil and watercolor on paper
59 1/2 x 44 1/2 ins.
151 x 113 cm

Elijah Burgher Queen of Cups, 2019

Elijah Burgher
Queen of Cups, 2019
watercolor, colored pencil and collage on paper
16 1/4 x 11 ins.
41.3 x 27.9 cm

Elijah Burgher The Green Child (after Botticelli), 2021

Elijah Burgher
The Green Child (after Botticelli), 2021
colored pencil and watercolor on paper
64 1/8 x 44 7/8 ins.
163 x 114 cm

Elijah Burgher Jonathan-Hecate (after Blake), 2021

Elijah Burgher
Jonathan-Hecate (after Blake), 2021
colored pencil and watercolor on paper
44 7/8 x 68 7/8 ins.
114 x 175 cm

Elijah Burgher Orpheus Still Sings, 2021

Elijah Burgher
Orpheus Still Sings, 2021
colored pencil and watercolor on paper
59 1/4 x 44 7/8 ins.
150.5 x 114 cm

Elijah Burgher The Perineum is the Door!, 2018-20

Elijah Burgher
The Perineum is the Door!, 2018-20
acrylic and ink on canvas drop cloth
141 3/4 x 106 1/4 ins.
360 x 270 cm

Installation Views

Installation Views Thumbnails
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