Greg Burak: Fortnight Institute Library & Salon

3 September - 2 October 2020
  • We are pleased to announce the opening of the Fortnight Institute Library & Salon, a new by-appointment-only space that aims...

    We are pleased to announce the opening of the Fortnight Institute Library & Salon, a new by-appointment-only space that aims to activate art, books, music, and conversation in a salon-style environment. The program at the Library and Salon will feature a focused presentation by one artist. The artist will engage with the books in the library and curate a shelf, creating a dialogue between existing books, and the exhibited work. Books from the artist’s personal collection will also be included, linking their work ideas to books and directing energy to the role that books play in the artist’s creative process. The Library and Salon space will feature these vital connections between artists and books. Additionally, we aim to take you into the artist's studio to learn more about how these ideas link to the creation of art.


    Our inaugural presentation features Skeletons III and Landscape at Dusk II, 2020, two new paintings by Fortnight Institute artist, Greg Burak which is inspired by Rosemarie Beck's 'Letters to a Young Painter and Other Writings' edited by Eric Sutphin. Burak offers us a glimpse into his personal history with Beck's work and the foundational influence it has had particularly in his studio practice.



    I was introduced to Rosemarie Beck’s work early in my study of painting by my first painting teacher, professor Catherine Drabkin. Seeing Beck’s work at that time revealed a possible path through painting and figuration. I still have a catalog of her work from that early encounter. In 2018, Catherine gave me Letters To A Young Artist and Other Writings, edited by Eric Sutphin, as a gift. Catherine’s recommendations have always been thoughtful, but this collection of writings was especially impactful. It reconnected me to that initial spark of discovery I felt when I first fell into painting and to the excitement of beginning again.


    Beck’s resolute letters provide ballast to both practical and holistic studio challenges. She speaks to the complexities of narrative figuration and the continual task of relocating one’s self within parameters, the question of balancing the materials and the narrative. In her letter to W. she considers the aesthetics of doubt in painting and it’s inevitability. The problem solving process inherent to painting becomes forward momentum. 


  • "My albatross is between symbol and fact, or between the general and the particular, or between the whole and the parts, the formed and the forming, continuity and discontinuity. I believe the real subject of a life-work in painting is the putting together of irreconcilables, an activity more important than image; or, rather, finally, the image, or whatever remains, is the embodiment of this idea."


    Perhaps the passages of Beck's writing I found most resonant are her reflections on being in the studio, the strangeness that occurs when one is fully absorbed in a particular project.


    "Yet, something does happen, at least for me, when I let myself fall into the work-in-progress. The mirrors begin to recede. The exigencies of the recalcitrant material in which I labor begin to absorb me. I fall into illusion, into chimeras. I don't measure any longer my day to day progress, or take temperature of my confidence. I become a somnambulist. The waters close over me and I am young again."

  • Greg Burak's Studio