Review: Burton's work at Slein envelop the viewer
This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 29, 2013 - To enter the beloved Nymphéas rooms at the Musée de l’Orangerie is to sit smack in the center of Monet’s water-lily strewn pond at Giverny. The experience is abruptly transporting, as intended by the artist. Visitors to the St. Louis Art Museum notice this powerful effect when they view the single Water Lilies panel in SLAM’s gallery 218.
Richmond Burton’s 11 abstract patterned paintings on exhibit at the Philip Slein Gallery envelop the viewer in a similarly forceful manner. Burton’s paintings cover the canvas and surround the viewer while suggesting a domestic interior, a room covered by wallpaper or a private alcove or recess.
The silver base of Burton’s paintings provides architectural support. The trapezoidal shape of this platform signals a depth in physical space so that if you had entered a room, with this silver floor before you, vertical patterning would surround your view.
The upward pull of columns formed by triangles counter a movement inward toward the wall and away from the viewer created by internal spaces marked by alternating colors. The black triangular centers of Horizon Window Wall make a pulse. While the silver vertical lines that cut through Parallels (also the title given to the exhibit) create the curves of a curtain.
Contrasting colors are well tuned against one another. The paint’s response to the linen canvas creates a mottled texture furthering the effect of a wall surface.
If these large-scale paintings were not separated by the white of the gallery walls the effect might be overwhelming. As separate experiences within the expansive stretch of the Philip Slein Gallery, each painting provides an enjoyable entrée into an effectively developed space.
Sarah Hermes Griesbach is a freelance writer.