By Michael Alexander
Thursday, June 3
Artist talk: Burk Uzzle
5:30 PM Cash bar
6 PM Gallery talk
The work of North Carolina-based photographer Burk Uzzle in the latter half of the 20th century has been regaled as poignant, iconic and classically American. Three of Uzzle’s photographs are now on view in the Nasher Museum’s permanent collection gallery.
My initial impression of the photographs (“Tree with Refrigerator,” 2006; “Black Barn,” 2006; “Orange Trailer,” 2006), is that they are “modern.” Uzzle’s recent work is undoubtedly laden with regard for large blocks of color, geometric shapes and the tensions and harmonies explored between the two. Each image presents an intriguing interplay of simple shapes and contrasting colors. This sort of simplification of the visual field prompts me to consider things that are not readily apparent. I begin to question the significance of the photographs on a level that goes beyond mere aesthetic evaluation.
After a few moments of intent gazing, with my intellectually analytical intuition aside, I noticed a subtle, delightful irony within the works. I was uncertain as to which aspect of the works was able to disarm my critical view of art, but the fact that I was eased to put said views away speaks volumes about the unpretentious nature of Uzzle’s work. Within these frames, Uzzle exhibits a sort of knack for unveiling the interesting and profound nuances of seemingly mundane visual scapes. His keen eye for balance, dynamism and composition make interesting the ordinary subjects within the photographs. When I consider that his work leads me into staring at images of a tree and refrigerator, a barn and a trailer for more than 10 minutes, I’m unable to call his work anything less than remarkable.
IMAGE: Burk Uzzle, “Woodstock (couple),” 1969. 20 x 30″ carbon print, edition 10.
Michael Alexander is a rising senior at Duke University.