The fact that film director Guillermo del Toro, master of the horror genre, is a fan of Steve Burdniak's work tells you a lot about the Austin artist's work. Burdniak's assemblages use real human blood, mummified squirrels, octopus tentacles, centipedes and gyrating Mercedes hubcaps to create a mad scientist's lair befitting one of del Toro's films in ''The Science of Surrealism.'' The show spans more than 20 years of the artist's celebrated career.
And thanks to a new book of the same name, each piece is accompanied by a story by the artist explaining the spiritual inspirations, biological curiosities or just plain chance discoveries that helped the pieces come together. The text is especially helpful in breaking down peculiar works such as Zeitgeist, which like many of the pieces on display, demands some participation from viewer. In Zeitgeist, the viewer pulls open the chamber and bronze cast doors of the assemblage reveals a mummified squirrel, eternally fixed in a sad, broken state. It's one of the artist's favorite pieces. The Gulf of Pandemonium features a safe door portal, cast concrete and motor oil all placed right on the gallery floor so that looks like it leads to a hellish abyss.
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See ''The Science of Surrealism'' 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Through June 5. Avis Frank Gallery, 1606 White Oak Dr. For information, call 713-231-8967or visit avisfrank.com. Free.
Tuesdays-Saturdays. Starts: May 10. Continues through June 15, 2013