Refuge - Between cave and gate 

Simon Burton's work reminds us that paintings are not something we just look at; we find ourselves involved with them. We mingle our joys and anxieties with the visual sensations that an artist is somehow able to create, capture or even save. Paintings can become so much more than a sight; from time to time they can become a place of refuge, not just something to be looked at but something we inhabit.

It is clear that Burton's highly handled and touched surfaces are a form of inhabiting. It is as if he is working his way around a space with his eyes closed, clinging on to areas of the painting to enable him to grasp at placing himself. The highly visceral and heavily worked surface becomes something akin to Braille, forming a reality that is not solely reliant on the visual; creating a tension between material and image.

All this manhandling seems to place the image in a constant state of repair and repetitive routine. It is as if an image always has a history attached and a memory that is inherent, but the recurring nature of it leaves it in tatters. Reclamation, recycling and reforming are acts that keep things alive, originals are adapted to avoid the wreckage slipping away from our consciousness; however, the act of repairing in our contemporary world can seem absurd. This act is perhaps a tendency to seek value and meaning. The fact that what is repaired can only once again become timeworn, reminds us that the human inability to find meaning is the very core of absurdity but also drives a thirst.

Burton's work is as idiosyncratic as the activity of looking. He gives the viewer 'nearly narratives' and 'nearly abstractions', his paintings sit and sit us on the edge of experience and understanding. He has said that he is interested in thresholds and the many symbolic, art historic and creative references that he presents us, are not treated as absolute references. Meaning in the painting is found, not merely in their iconography, but through inhabiting and through the activity of making. In these anti-photographic pictures meaning is brought to play in an existential way; it is found through activity, either his in the act of painting or ours in the act of looking.

Perhaps a painter offers the world his work as a challenge. Question it, it will not answer you, but it will draw you into the process of making, the process of living and the process of inhabiting.

© Simon Burton 2019