Robert Burger recognized for his “art of visual storytelling”

By Cassie Stathis

New Hope Arts is an art center that allows local contemporary artists to put their work on display. It was opened in 2002 by Robin Larsen, who wanted to reclaim that New Hope, Pennsylvania, was a top national art landmark. The center hosts annual events in six different mediums: sculpting, wood, fine artisan crafts, painting and new media installations.  Robert Burger, an adjunct professor of graphic design and animation at Rider, recently had his work on display at this year’s New Hope Arts’ Annual Juried Members Exhibition 2020. 

“It is always a thrill to have my art included in an exhibit, particularly when it is a juried show and your work has been recognized for its quality,” said Burger. His work has a large variety from cool, funky geometric shapes to different animals playing instruments. 

“Throughout the years my work constantly changes and evolves. I have moved through various styles and mediums in my years of artistic creation,” he continued. “I choose to take a new direction that excites me and poses new challenges, conceptually and technically.”

His work being put on display caught the eyes of many, but most notably the Executive Producer of “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse,” Peter Rosenthal. Burger reminisced on the memories he has about the show, “‘Pee-Wee’s Playhouse’ is one of my all-time favorite TV shows.”

“The originality and wackiness of the show really resonated for me and it appears that the wackiness in my work also resonated for one of the brains behind the show,” said Burger. 

Senior graphic design major Fredy Ulloa appreciated Burger’s passion for art and illustration, a love that carries over into his teaching.

“He allows us to learn on our own while also giving feedback,” said Ulloa. “He seems to always smile, which is great. It seems he really enjoys being a professor and he loves to interact with us.”

Burger remembers beginning his art career in kindergarten. He recalled his earliest memory of drawing, “creating art of drawing flying saucers and aliens.” 

In high school, Burger’s art went through a drastic change. He had the opportunity to work with friends and branch out his artwork, “In high school, a good friend and I created and sold our own original comic book.” 

Burger continued to work on his art and gain recognition. 

“After graduating from Pratt Institute, I began my career as a freelance illustrator,” he said. “Creating illustrations for book covers, album covers, magazine covers and editorials, advertising and movie logos.” He even designed the logo for the original “Conan The Barbarian” movie.

 Over the years, Burger’s inspiration has gone through a lot of changes. 

“I draw creative inspiration from many sources – from museums and travel to music and books,” he said. “Surrealism has always been a major influence on my work.” 

One of his more recent works includes different animals playing various instruments. “I decided to develop the musical animals concept into a series of paintings starting with a solo musician,” he said. “Followed by a duo, trio, quartet, quintet and finally a sextet, which will be the last painting in the series.” 

Burger also mentioned another recognition about a specific piece of his, “The Lambdoma Duo,” which was recently accepted into the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles’ Annual Juried Exhibition. 

The Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles, founded in 1953, promotes philanthropic and educational goals, and serves as a way for artists and designers to find work on the west coast. It had been created by a small number of artists and designers from Southern California. 

Although Burger’s work is unconventional to some, he said, “I think the art tells a story through its imagery and I am telling a story in each one of my works. Illustration is the art of visual storytelling.” 

Burger continues to branch out and change his artwork over time.

“After all, creating art is my idea of fun and there is nothing like the sense of satisfaction and accomplishment when a work of art is completed,” he said.

Published in the 2/26/2020 issue of The Rider News.

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