Taymour Grahne Projects presents Retrovisore, a solo show by London-based artist Richard Burton.
Burton’s paintings are an opportunity for him to engage in what he refers to as world building. This term is usually linked to science fiction, and the method of manufacturing a fictional yet convincing reality. This exciting space for the imagination, however infinite, must be defined by specific boundaries, otherwise it falls apart. It needs laws and orderly qualities that one can relate to. His paintings from the past two years provide glimpses into this constructed world, with each work expanding the universe – in which facets are either revealed or reconfirmed.
Reshuffling the building blocks with each painting, Burton also tempers that science fiction mood with a sense of banality. Within the environments presented, this is explored in philosophical and playful ways. Where is the line between dull repetition and futuristic possibility? Can the numbing materiality of the present point to the excitement of things to come? In this world of smooth seats and dusty roads Burton leaves room for interpretation. Pinks, magentas and turquoises point to synthetic materials and soporific air. Yet despite all the comfort and seduction, a dystopian alertness jars the viewer awake. If it’s some version of the future that we’re presented with, we may want to avoid ever reaching it.
Most of the works in the exhibition were made during Burton’s Abbey Fellowship at The British School at Rome. Retrovisore, the title of the show, is Italian for rear view mirror. In its most literal sense, this is the mirror that allows the driver to see what is looming behind them; it also speaks to the act of viewing the world indirectly, in order to look back and forward at the same time, and in order to keep you safe. Mirrors play an important part in the exhibition; during his time in Italy, Burton visited many palazzos, where stucco and marble details are endlessly reflected — not only by surrounding mirrors but also by imitated, painted versions in trompe l’oeil. The optical mechanisms at play blur boundaries and oscillate dizzyingly between the authentic and the reproduced. Burton previously painted mirrors in his work, but these have evolved into free floating elements that reflect and invigorate a simulated context.
Richard Burton (b.1984) lives and works in London. He studied at the Royal College of Art (2019–21) and the Slade School of Fine Art (2004–08). He is the recipient of the Abbey Fellowship in Painting, British School at Rome (2022). Previous exhibitions include New Contemporaries, South London Gallery, London (2021), Incubator 21, 2 Chiltern Street, London (2021), Reigen, Fabian Lang, Zürich (2021) ,Urvanity Art Fair, Madrid (2021) and Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy, London (2019).
Courtesy of the artist and Taymour Grahne Projects, London