Heron Arts goes BIG. The detailed, larger-than-life paintings of Robert Burden
written by: SHAYNA YASUHARA
As a break from instant gratification, Heron Arts brings gallery goers an artist that cuts no corners when it comes to time and detail. Play by Robert Xavier Burden, which opens Saturday, February 29th, features large-scale paintings ranging in size from 60×30 inches up to a staggering 7×14 feet, that each took anywhere from thirteen-hundred up to twenty-one hundred hours to paint. At first glance the paintings are pop art show stoppers, but for viewers who take the extra time to soak in the details, there’s more to be said.
At the heart of this exhibition lies a tension between past and present, as well as our relationship to the natural world.
Best known for his giant paintings of Star Wars and Batman figures, Robert Burden introduces a new series of wildlife paintings. Burden’s work indulges a childhood fixation on animals with super-human characteristics found in films and TV, and serves as a reflection on the plastic culture that is killing them, taking into question our toxic relationship with nature.
As Burden explains, his captivation with animals began at a young age. His aunt was a zookeeper at the Toronto Zoo, which fed this fascination. 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 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.
The two-month exhibition at Heron Arts also includes an Artist Talk on March 25th, in which Robert Burden will give an inside look into his process and technique; as well as a glimpse into his studio space. Reassuring us that artists who live and work in San Francisco aren’t an entirely extinct group in itself. The Artist Talk will also include a conversation around the pieces on view in the gallery. The Artist Talk and opening exhibition are both free and open to the public.