Richmond Burton

Cheim & Read

Whither abstract painting? Richmond Burton gives us one convincing answer: toward a richness of surface that is ironic while it is at the same time aggressively, even triumphantly, organic. The richness is ironic in at least two ways. First, for all its sensuous directness and Dionysian fluidity, Burton’s surface is fragmented into forms that brake the painterly flow, forcing on us a certain Apollonian consciousness of “transcendent” shape. Second, his tricky flow is always intricate and never completely what it seems—at times his shapely gestures form a tense, tight weave, at others a more languid, looser one, and they may even verge on spinning utterly out of control. But “the return to the organic”—as idea, method, and source of emblematic forms—is regnant: Burton’s paintings convey a feeling of rapid, forceful metamorphosis, one that is bizarrely natural. It is as though he has dissected

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