Heron Arts is pleased to announce the two month long solo exhibition Play by Robert Xavier Burden. The exhibition will be on view at Heron Arts until April 26th, 2020. Known for his giant size paintings of Star Wars and Batman figures, this is the first series of wildlife paintings Burden has yet to show. The opening reception for Play is on Saturday, February 29th, 2019 at 7pm and is free and open to the public.
"In 2006, I began a series of large-scale oil paintings depicting the small action figures that I played with as a boy. Initially these figures were set against fabric, wallpaper, and rug patterns from my childhood home. Over the years the decorative motifs have become more complex, and often incorporating toys from various generations, but the motivation behind the work remains the same. I am inspired by the amorphous line that is drawn between imagination and reality, childhood wonder and adult practicality, and the ineffability of what can turn a cheap yet coveted piece of plastic into an almost talismanic object. I remember these figures as being magnificent. They represented power, beauty, good and evil. As an adult, these toys are wonderfully nostalgic, but they're no longer amazing to me. There is an obvious irony in spending hundreds of hours to create a single painting that glorifies a cheap, mass-produced toy. And while that irony could reflect issues of commodity fetishism, consumer addiction, Peter Pan Syndrome or even shallow idolatry, I want these paintings to represent something positive in my life. Although it was sheltered and naive, there was a freedom in my childhood. It was free from the politics of race and sex and religion. It was free from the weight of history. It was free from rhetoric and paranoia, shame and regret, cynicism and despair. There is nothing profound about commenting on the minor tragedy of losing one's innocence, or the struggle to maintain one's idealism. I just want to renew my faded sense of awe." - Robert Xavier Burden
At the heart of this exhibition lies a tension between past and present. Burden's work indulges a childhood fixation on animals with super-human characteristics found in films and TV, as well as it reflects a plastic culture that is killing them and takes into question our toxic relationship with nature. At its core, it is the artist's chance to idolize these figures once again, as they inch ever closer to extinction in the wild. With a closer look at the work, one absorbs the adoration and glorification of the animals portrayed, while simultaneously feeling the shame and sadness they are surrounded by in the form of cheap mass produced figurines. Figurines which are created for children in the hopes that they will identify with the creatures and create humanized relationships. The innocent love Burden retains for the animals he has always admired is as apparent as his disdain for a culture that kills them.
Burden's captivation with animals began young. His aunt was a zoo keeper at the Toronto Zoo, which fed this fasciation. As an adult, Burden began creating paintings based on his childhood obsessions, such as the Star Wars and superhero figurines he is known for. It wasn't until 2016 that he created his first wildlife painting of Charles the Lowland Gorilla, a gorilla from the Toronto Zoo who is the centerpiece for this show. Not only does Burden attend zoos around the country to photograph animals in captivity, but he also researches the stories of the animals he paints. The child-like fascination continues as he grapples with now global consequences.
Upon entering the gallery, the viewer will be immediately impressed by the sheer size and drama of these paintings. The gallery will be covered completely, with just seven paintings ranging in size from 60x30 inches up to a staggering 7x14 feet. Each painting takes anywhere from thirteen hundred up to twenty-one hundred hours to paint.
Heron Arts is pleased to announce the two month long solo exhibition Play by Robert Xavier Burden. The exhibition will be on view at Heron Arts until April 26th, 2020. Known for his giant size paintings of Star Wars and Batman figures, this is the first series of wildlife painti...