We're very excited to have become personally acquainted with Alabama-born Richmond Burton this past summer. We had followed his work in the early 90's through the Matthew Marks gallery and later at Cheim and Read. Richmond has been very active of late in his Easthampton studio (which used to belong to Elaine de Kooning). He is currently in the midst of three different series of work: Stretch/Colorstream Paintings, Parenthesis Paintings and White Paintings. Our commentary below is drawn from Richmond's own thoughts about his new work.
The Stretch paintings are horizontal and the Colorstream paintings are vertical, but both are painted on wood panels the size of doors. Richmond had Aldous Huxley's writing in mind about "doors of perception" when he painted them. He also found the wood to be a much easier medium to acquire than traditional canvas out in the Hamptons. The central composition is compressed by silver curved shapes that connect the corners which compact the diagonal geometry in the middle and expand toward the edges. These unique paintings create a variety of spatial readings with the silver metallic reflecting and interacting with available light and the geometric center seeming to recede or advance in space. Burton explored separate but related color modalities for each painting, playing on and expanding upon the tradition of the monochrome by using 2 related colors or tones which introduce a shimmering and flickering movement.
Parenthesis paintings are a newer, related series that has started on wood and will migrate to linen. Richmond was directly influenced by Adolf Gottlieb's Pictogram series.The convex/concave silver shapes are a theme that this series shares with the Stretch paintings. However, the center of the composition is in a loose grid which allows a sequential reading with various marks - circles, x's, arcs and free-form drawing. These images form point/counter-point rectangles painted in silver and deep indigo over an iridescent ground so they have a dimensional appearance but maintain a monochromatic feeling. The marks can be compared to hieroglyphs, petroglyphs, and Asian scroll painting.
The White paintings series precede the Parenthesis works but are closely related. They are the first pieces that explored the idea of an internal series and sequence. By refining, editing and filtering down marks and compositions and eliminating color, Burton discovered a greater expressive simplicity. These paintings comment on how one sees and visually processes information, like a cartoon narrative or individual frames from a film.
Richmond's final comment to us: "It's important to me to engage with living cultural traditions in a spirit of continuity- combining the ancient, modern, and futuristic into a unity."
availability of work
Richmond Burton has a number of paintings available from all three series. The best way to see the work is to travel out to Easthampton and visit his studio. Tag-arts has made several trips to Richmond this summer.
Prices for Richmond's paintings start at $15,000.