Fatemeh Burnes is a visual artist, educator, curator, and activist based in Los Angeles.
She obtained formal and informal training in the visual arts, receiving a BFA and MFA, and did additional graduate studies in art history and exhibition design. Since 1992, she has exhibited her own work nationally and internationally, curated over 100 exhibitions, authored numerous publications, and conducted art-education documentaries.
Burnes’ work focuses on nature and human nature, looking at modern events and tragedies, ecological and social, and how those events manifest in contemporary life. Her most current work has taken an autobiographical turn in the context of her experience as an immigrant and as a woman. These recent pieces share the same thread, regardless of the locations and experiences they might describe, and her purpose as an activist is to learn about her world through extensive study, connecting to her neighbors, and whatever other methods are possible within her means.
Burnes’ process involves problem-solving, not solving problems. An ingrained impulse prompts her restless and playful nature to challenge and direct her otherwise untamed perception of the world. The artist is preoccupied with the nature around us and within us and the history we have made and that we make, a history defined not by time but by energy -- as is nature, and as is art. Burnes makes art not just to produce objects, but also to explore phenomena, whether they occur in the world or in her dreams, as thoughts in her mind or as rocks on the ground.
The artist works with a wide variety of pictorial media, and in all of them, she welcomes the unexpected, materially and procedurally. This keeps her in an open, vulnerable position by challenging any notion she may have of “mastering” a medium or method. In her process, Burnes avoids conscious intention and instead favors subconscious association. She develops her compositional elements by extracting, articulating, secreting and re-exposing new identities — identities that are estranged but connected. Combining means and modalities – carving, miniature painting, gestural abstraction, etc. — accords naturally with her academic training.
Her photography also resists categories of subject matter and process. Burnes does not photograph with such distinctions in mind. She looks for relations and connections among her subjects, regardless of conditional references. The artist shoots straightforward pastoral scenes but she also, literally, walks through minefields to capture the subtle tension of a once-tumultuous landscape. Burnes does not seek to document places or events with her photography; rather, she is sensitive to the perception of light and movement in the drama of the moment.
Burnes resists the tendency to simplify the world through categorization into kinds of things, or kinds of art. There are no categories for the artist, only experiences.