Rea Burton

Footloose and Fancy Free

"Self portrait 25 Blushing" 2019 oil, flashe and glitter on canvas, artist frame (steel, wire, enamel) 1200 x 1700mm
'Waken! As a Butt-erfly (revisited)' 2019 oil, acrylic, modelling material, pin on board, found birds nest 520 x 420mm.
'Lascivious Marketing Plan' 2019 oil, enamel, acrylic, armpit hair, glitter, glue, pumice and decorations on found fabric 590 x 385
Clockwise from left - 'Lifecycles (Incel Output)' 2019 - Oil, flashe and varnish on linen 500 x 350mm, "A Parting Peach" 2019 Flashe print on wall 220 x 330mm, Hommelette POV (series of two) Oil and acrylic on ostrich eggs 2019 approx.200x150mm
'The Egghead and the Dum-dum' (series of 4) Coloured pencil, flashe, enamel, acrylic, resin, ink on ostrich or chicken egg approx. 200x150mm - 60x40mm
Untitled' 2019 oil, enamel acrylic and glitter on canvas 450 x 355mm
'Hommelette POV'

What’s making me blush?

In these works, I explore the relationship between the formal and pictorial language of my paintings and the production of subjectivity. I am adopting an embarrassingly expressionist, autobiographical mode that I wince at when I observe the crass, clichéd, sentimental qualities that arise, and their sticky associations with my ‘self’. There is something intrinsically shameful about using one’s own biography as artistic material, especially when considering this highly mediated form of self-presentation concerning the judgments of one’s peers, and in the scholastic and commercial contexts in which it circulates as art.

The egg is a motif that appears in most of the work I’ve presented here as a fecund, polysemic symbol of potential - a comic, cosmic, feminine freedom linked to the body that works in counterpoint to these anxious representations of the self on display. As a symbol and a form here, it links sexuality with the abstract potential of paint to free oneself from the binds of self-representation, though from a contemporary perspective this thematic from the language of traditional painting can also look hopelessly anachronistic. The egg is now a parodic symbol of comic, if not cosmic failure.

The large work, Self Portrait 25 Blushing, reflects on this problem of painting, freedom and self-presentation by inserting my own image into the pictorial structure of Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergère. I have re-populated Manet’s bar with details particular to my own place of work at an ‘art’ bar on K’ Road. The thematic significance of this work in relation to the others shown is partly to do with the double-edged materiality of its production. It recognises that the individuating practice of painting as a grounds for freedom is also, in fact, work.


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