Adam Baumgold Gallery presents an exhibition of portraits by Charles Burns that were published on the cover of The Believer magazine between 2003 and 2013. Using ink on paper in a strict 6 by 6 inch format, Burns creates endless variations of texture, lighting, and composition. His stark, black line offers a distinctive take on the tradition of portrait drawing. Over 300 drawings of artists, writers, musicians, animals, comic characters, and historical figures will be included.
Alongside this vast series of Believer portraits is a group of Before & After drawings from Charles Burns’s seminal graphic novel Black Hole. In these comic grotesque portraits, themes of adolescent alienation and sexual awakening mingle with imagery of mutation, disease, and violence. Each smiling, yearbook-style portrait is accompanied by a Dorian Gray-like counterpart, picturing the same teenager with some troubling facial alteration.
Charles Burns's drawings first reached a wider audience through the legendary comics magazine Raw in the 1980s. His graphic novel classic Black Hole, 2005 received the Harvey award. Other earlier cult classics by Burns include El Borbah, Big Baby, and Skin Deep, among others. Burns’s drawings have appeared on the covers and in the pages of Rolling Stone, The New York Times, and many other publications, as well as on the album covers of Iggy Pop and others. His work was the subject of a solo exhibition Charles Burns at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts Museum, and was included in the exhibition Disparities and Deformations: Our Grotesque at the SITE Santa Fe Biennial 2004 curated by Robert Storr. Burns’s forthcoming graphic novel Sugar Skull (Pantheon, 2014) will complete the trilogy of books that include X’ed Out and The Hive—a dreamlike narrative and homage to Tintin and other art that Burns admires. A retrospective of Charles Burns work was exhibited at Museum M in Leuven, Belgium in 2011-2012. Charles Burns lives and works in Philadelphia.