PUBLIC/PRIVATE is about seeing the searing fluorescent yellow of public security guard vests while perceiving the emotional distance of the young men who wear them. Or watching teenagers grouped together in a common public space and noticing they are isolated by their smartphone use. It is about looking at young men wearing similar clothing designed to express an authentic self and realizing they are lost in their own worlds. Whether private couples sharing a public bench or teens texting by the Henry Moore, Jim Bourke portrays small groups of figures collected in our public spaces, existentially alone, yet loosely cohering. Adjacent not communal.
In large encaustic paintings, Bourke re-imagines adjacency as a kind of community. Through overlapping and repeating shapes and colours, Bourke re-energizes the sense of togetherness in his portraits of figures in public spaces by merging them into a rhythmic mass punctuated by warm fleshy textures that unify groups into a flowing and dynamic whole. Fields of electric yellow-green or hot rose-pink surrounded by Matisse-like line that flows continuously across the figures further strengthen the sense of unity. With saturated video-game colours, Bourke reveals the inherent connectedness and separation of a changing public realm.