His paintings have often felt like remnants rather than pictures, and depictions have felt as if they teeter on the brink of tragedy, his subjects seem to draw upon notions of the obsolete, abandonment and the passing of time. His painterly process is one of reclamation and recycling, he weaves his paintings together from the residue of the accumulation of the remains of failed representations, leaving open-ended narratives.While his paintings can often be interpreted as sites of destruction, he is interested in recycling, reclamation and reforming. He talks of inhabiting the languages of paintings canon and through this creating a contemporary dialect. Burton sees this as a citation and celebration of a historical lineage that salvages elements to help us create meaning. What Burton's paintings unerringly communicate is a sense of pushing forward, while pulling the whole of the past behind it.
His paintings forcefully profess their subject matter as both an image and the act of painting. In these new paintings, Burton reflects on a sense of the obsolete and his subject turns to the 'Nowhere Man', a tradition that stretches from Dostoevsky to Saul Below's 'Dangling man' and certainly has become a 21st Century condition. These paintings of 'Nowhere men' embrace uncertainty and acknowledge that we live in a time of no unified culture. The figures in the paintings often seem lonely, and show an inner search for something. They are dislocated and express confusion and misunderstanding, they are stranded in a mix of history retrieved, reworked, and reinvested. Past and present mix together and future is presented as a confusion.The paintings materiality and language drag us back into something ancient and void. Burton has been careful not to overstate the motif, allowing the primordial paste to gestate on the surface; there is a beautiful balance in how Burton seems able to acknowledge whole histories within his paintings by creating a sophisticated communication between subject, motif and abstraction. He has said 'I would love it if within a single painting one could feel the presence of human ideas and also sense the very beginning of life from the pools of gunk that we came from……..'. The paintings hang between analysis and chaos, which seems a type of metaphor for the realisation of humanities damage and need to repair, recycle and reform. Recently Burton has said that '…….making pictures of this condition is in itself an act of hope, belief and change……..'. Many of the new paintings do seem to suggest a contemplation of the idea of genesis, where men have presumed control. However, on closer inspection we see an image of men abandoning the norm and turning to a form of hermitage to consider and re-assess our belonging to the garden.These are densely layered paintings which appear to waiver between pathos and enchantment. Burton's paintings remind us that meaning is a phantom.
© Simon Burton 2019