15 Years After Its Debut, Richmond Burton’s Kaleidoscopic “I AM” Series Returns to New York

Mar 31, 2016 12:58AM

“This is painting untouched by the age of mechanical reproduction,” said The New Yorker of Richmond Burton’s “I AM” series in 2001. “Each painting is constructed like a mosaic...with myriad marks coalescing into dense patterns reminiscent of a peacock-feather fan or airy kaleidoscopic grids.”

Now, 15 years after the series’s debut at Cheim & Read, Burton’s seminal paintings are back in New York, this time at Art 3 in Brooklyn for “I AM Paintings (the return).”

The paintings—large in scale, rendered in vibrant oil on linen—have drawn comparisons to the works of Gustav Klimt and Antoni Gaudi as well as psychedelic patterns from the 1960s. Though each piece is distinctive, their titles all begin with the same phrase: “I AM.” I AM (SWEET SPOT) (2001) is rendered in cheerful candy colors, while I AM EVERMORE (2000), a darker composition, centers on an eye—a human eye, maybe, or perhaps the eye of a storm.

I AM EQUINOX (1999) is similar, at least on first look, but with a more complex structure, featuring organic shapes and geometric forms that appear to undulate or even protrude from the surface. Likewise, in I AM (SLICE OF MOMENT) (2001), dark shapes emerge from a light, ripply background.

Holland Cotter, art critic for the New York Times, compared Burton’s paintings to “luxury fabrics printed with overlapping, off-register layers of patterning.” Indeed, 15 years after its debut, the “I AM” series still feels modern and original, beguilingly so. As Cotter wrote, “Structure is never absent; it’s just uninsistent, even accidental.”

Bridget Gleeson

Richmond Burton: I AM Paintings (the return)” is on view at Art 3, Brooklyn, Mar. 30–May 8, 2016.

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