For his latest show at Sue Greenwood Fine Art, painter Andy Burgess continues to explore architectural themes in his new paintings, the latest work saturated with vibrant color and suffused with the light of the South West.
There is a delicate series of small oil on panel paintings, floated in white frames, each a painterly meditation on contemporary and Mid-Century Modern architecture. Often Burgess takes a real place, from a found image or a photograph he himself has taken and he re-invents the scene afresh. The architecture is simplified and distilled into geometric shapes. The palette is invented and heightened. Extraneous detail is removed so that the beauty of the scene and the clarity of the architectural space can be experienced as a painted artifice – the houses in his paintings remain real places but at the same time they are imagined and re-imagined; painted jewels a world away from a photographic reproduction.
The genesis of this work can be found in Burgess’s love of early Twentieth Century art and architecture and movements such as Bauhaus and De Stijl. Mondrian is a touchstone. His flat geometric paintings were two-dimensional explorations of three-dimensional space. In their way, Mondrian’s paintings were the painted equivalents of the “International Style” architecture of that time – seeking to open up domestic living spaces by reducing the building blocks to clean lines, flat planes, verticals and horizontals and flat primary color. This aesthetic, while it never succeeded in becoming the dominant building style, had a profound effect on almost all forms of modern art, design, furniture and architecture.
So Burgess’s paintings are a meditation on the relationship between painting and architecture and the essential qualities of painting as a medium that in essence is about light and color and space.
A second series of paintings, completed exclusively for this show are called “Dwellings” – simplified schematic “models” of domestic architecture that draw on the fundamental cubic shape of the house and the historic ubiquity of the A-frame roof. These Dwellings are again situated in a modernist space of colored squares and grids, juxtaposing the three-dimensional and “spatial” nature of architecture with the fundamental flatness of the painted plane. A building has to have volume and space but a painting can never be anything other than a “flat”, illusion of space!
A third series of paintings take the motif of the stripe, so often reproduced in modern and contemporary art and make a pun on the stripe as both painterly abstraction and city skyscraper. These paintings are both playfully imagined skylines and pure abstract color.
The city, as always in Burgesses paintings, is a metaphor for our joyful experience of the built environment and our desire to shape and reshape our world with color and light.