Brian Burke was born in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, in 1952. He studied design at Holland College in the early 1970s and then attended the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax. Burke returned to Prince Edward Island, where he lives and paints at his residence in Dalvay-by-the-Sea. He has exhibited his work in solo exhibitions in Canada, the USA, and Switzerland. He has also participated in group exhibitions across Canada and the USA.
Since he was a student, Burke has focussed on human figures in his subject matter. An early influence was American Eric Fischl, his painting instructor at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, who was making abstract paintings at the time. Burke combines the figurative with abstraction. He is not just painting people, but is concerned with capturing psychological states of being. And he has been interested in using male imagery, exploring men and what is considered masculinity, what it means to "be a man." This work, Man, illustrates both interests.