From September 9th to October 11th, 1997, Richmond Burton will present an exhibition of brightly colored abstract paintings at Cheim & Read. Burton, who had his first exhibition in New York in 1987, graduated with a degree in architecture in 1984. As an explanation of his works Burton says:
The architectural experience was very important to me. I was applying my architectural background to my painting by using compasses and straight edges to making “constructed space” paintings. In my view, this period became the foundation to all the work I’ve done. It was. It provided the conceptual framework and became the skeleton upon which I could later build the rest. Sometime along the way, I threw out the straight edge and compass and began painting by hand. I also put aside the black and white in favor of color (most of the time). I replaced architectonic structures with more organic ones. I became extremely interested in nature – not just in it’s appearance, but also in it’s methods (actually, after investigation the two seemed more and more related).
It did not matter if it was an experience of the figure, of still-life, or of landscape, the language of abstraction could seem to encompass the experience of it without the obligation of duplicating the particular appearance of it. I never questioned the validity of painting as a form of self-expression because it seemed to work so well for me. I still do not. I am amazed that anyone could perceive it as anything but a vital and meaningful medium. Having said that, its also not as if I am “exclusive” or “attached” to just painting. It’s just that it serves my purposes best.
As time has gone on I’ve extended my interest in the way things go together. Objects from nature became interesting to me as they had never been before. I had a dream that Lee Krasner had invited me to her house in Springs. She showed me a collection of her gourds branches and dried beans. After that, I determined to start collecting them myself. I became fascinated with the way nature repeats itself but varies at the same time. The structure of crystals is the perfect example. Each unit is seemingly self-sufficient, and yet repeated and yet unique. The same as with the cells of a leaf or a tree. I learned that these ideas could be explained rationally through Fractal Theory and the Mandelbrot Set – the building block of nature. I started collecting crystals extensively and found that their geometries surfaced more and more noticeably in the compositions of my new paintings. I simultaneously developed a stronger and stronger attraction to nature and began to grow many different types of house-plants. I became very interested also in the underwater landscape and took up scuba diving – finding it endlessly inspiring and fascinating.
After taking a break from color last summer and working primarily in black and white, I decided to emphasize color even more, but this time in combination with the more open-ended compositions. This gave me a lot more expressive freedom and I have found that freedom both daunting and great. I became very interested in expanding my color sense, or bringing very specific experiences into the work through subtle adjustments in color.