Juan Burgos


Ciudades / Cities

Nuestro Amor & Déjeuner sur l’herbe

Paper collages

Landscape 2 – Juan Burgos expands the urban apocalyptic events of inattentive daily life. His inspiration is an innocent children’s storybook, out of which emerges a delirious collage. Scenes emerge in a disturbingly baroque style; anything is possible in his productions. Shapes and characters display a heredity which almost defies classification. With amazing dexterity he cuts, pastes, digitally photocopies, makes symmetries, inverts, photocopies anew; fitting the whole into a fascinating staging which transports viewers away from the comfortable lethargy of their visual routines. In these almost nightmarish metaphors, from amongst an abundant cast of characters, semi-concealed iconic elements of national imagery emerge.   


Nuestro amor / Our love - paper collage, 2009 - 122 cm x 202 cm, 2009

Nuestro amor / Our love - paper collage, 2009 - 122 cm x 202 cm, 2009

Detail from "Nuestro amor /Our love"

Detail from "Nuestro amor /Our love"

Déjeuner sur l'herbe - Paper collage, 2009 - 122 cm x 202 cm, 2009

Déjeuner sur l'herbe - Paper collage, 2009 - 122 cm x 202 cm, 2009

details from "Déjeuner sur l'herbe", 2009

details from "Déjeuner sur l'herbe", 2009

Photos: Luis Alonso



“When confronted with one of Burgos’s works the viewer must follow the fascinating process of his creative thinking and undertake a journey into a world which can only be the product of the imagination of this artist, and which finally can only be “understood” in terms of the empathy generated by the assembly of contemporary personalities.

If we contemplate Burgos’s work from an anthropological viewpoint we can liken his work – and indeed the process of all of his work – to a game which avoids reality and becomes an answer. As Hans Georg Gadamer maintains, it is not possible to contemplate human culture without considering its playful aspect. Burgos’s images are essentially a fantastic and playful construction which unites memory, collection, invention and the formation of imaginary worlds and symbols which, when superimposed, constitute a language full of irony and are extremely critical. Burgos fuses images and situations in compositions regarding society which are critical and adaptable to distant identities, to tales and fables which reconstruct with personalities from the media and present-day symbols. In a certain sense – obviously not in a formal one – his works recall those of Nadim Ospina, the Colombian artist who comments ironically on contemporary culture by transforming figures from contemporary popular culture into “pre-Colombian icons”.

This construction is, according to Heidegger, both symbol and allegory. An allegory which, in this case, exists only in Burgos’s imagination, and is integrated into a totality of meanings which constitute a symbol.

Much has been said about Burgos’s technique with collage, which from its beginnings encompasses a Dadaist and Frankensteinian possibility of creating, from something real, something which it is impossible to conjugate. Space is reinvented in combinations which construe a narrative which fluctuates between reality and fiction, between symbolism and cultural identification, between ownership and alienation. Comparable to the discord in the new lines of research in sound, this space unifies what is familiar and what is strange, in a simulated environment. Burgos starts, on occasions, from childish imaginings, gathered from simple stories such as those that are told to children in their early years; the first shaping of associations. Thus, for example, he resorts in the construction of these works to an illustrated story, which through the use of simplified images and very few words, manages to convey the concept of a city, which in this case, acts as the connecting thread linking the characters which inhabit it. And it is from this fundamental space that he presents a sequence of events arising from the functions and acts which are inherent to the happenings in almost “any city”.

But these are Burgos’s cities, chaotic places in which symmetrical composition connects impossible worlds. Animated constructions, ghostly anterooms, images which although “familiar” and reiterative still connote, in their apparent innocuousness, Goyesque immanence in which barbarity and horror eloquently prevail. It is in this space of revulsion that time stands still and blends fiction into the reality which we inhabit and form part of.

This picture is easy to understand if we think about the incoherence of the present, a time which exceeds by far anyone’s imagination. Is Burgos’s work a critical exercise? I understand it to be so. But it is also a necessary space of “familiar discomfort”. A place from which to search for something intuitively; something which one does not possess.”


Commissioner Patricia Bentancur

Extract from the “Critical Landscapes” catalogue, 2009



  1. […] Uruguay Publicado em Arte por marimessias em Novembro 16, 2009 Fiquei enamoré pelas colagens o do artista plástico uruguayo Juan Burgos, que ta na Venice Biennale. […]

  2. […] This year Uruguay decided to invite three artists to its pavilion. Juan Burgos’ flamboyant paper collages caught all my attention. The images i pasted below don’t do any justice to the works. Do […]

  3. Your work is so beautiful. Love the colors you choose. You are so talented.

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: