Between cave and gate | Artary Gallery, Stutgart, Germany                                                            

ARTARY Gallery is delighted to announce the opening of Simon Burton’s solo exhibition ‘Between cave and gate’

Between cave and gate will be Burton’s premier exhibition with the gallery and his first solo exhibition in Germany.

The paintings are a compelling series of work that reflect on the desire to remove oneself from civilization. These are portraits of mainly men inhabiting the landscape away from the social constraints of modern life.

The works are pieced together from the salvaged scraps of past paintings; this accumulation of failures emphasizes the figures as psychological. They seem to engage in brooding and deep reflection, stressing their retreat and vulnerability. There are moments of wondering, dreaming and awakening as well as moments of confrontation with the unknown. The figures often seem to show an inner search for something.

These idiosyncratic and existential narratives of loner personalities in the paintings are activated through a playful yet knowing visual language referencing painting’s history and acknowledging its current fragmented and vulnerable condition.

The genesis of the work is from Burton’s fascination with 17th century hermit John Bigg of Dinton, who is reputed to have been King Charles I executioner. Bigg retreated from his former self and lived in a cave for the last thirty years of his life. He walked eight miles a day to fetch food and the only help he requested was for leather scraps to repair his worn out walking boots in order to continue this humble daily routine.

In some of Burton’s portraits he overtly plays with this idea of repair and repetitive routine. They are made by stitching together the remnants of previous paintings, perhaps as a direct reference to John Bigg. Reforming and reclamation are recurrent themes in Burton’s work and the physical element of recycling, Burton feels, is a reflection of the place art inhabits in today’s world.  Whereas modernism rejected its artistic heritage, 21st century painting draws on its history to define itself. Burton has said ‘this is an act something like inhabiting a derelict house’.

Burton’s new paintings make us question how we connect to nature and to each other in today’s world and, at the same time, look at the place of painting right now.  The atmosphere is uncertain; they drag us back into something ancient and void and pull us forward into the unknown.


© Simon Burton 2019