200 x 160 cm | 78 x 62 in
Original painting in oil on canvas.
This piece won Black Swan Arts Prize 2016. See Steve featured in Investable Artists via the blog.
"From medieval times the site of the estate was an important dockland development with several wharves, a large cattle market and associated abattoir. My painting Abattoir began with a 1913 photograph taken in the abattoir and obtained from the Pepys Archive in nearby Lewisham Library. I wanted to reconnect with these long-gone figures in black and white, and examine their personas – one of the reasons I chose to place myself in the painting – to understand better the gangs of men that once worked there, while introducing the street-gang members that the estate had become known for in later years."
Steve Burden constructs images laden with brutalist edges and heavy slabs of colour to express the juxtaposition of humans in urban environments. The works contain a sense of aggression and isolation which is accentuated by Burden’s aesthetic style of scraped-back paint and strong, solid, tonal range. Inspired by his upbringing in the “urban jungle” of London, his paintings contain architectural and figurative elements. The work is evocative of Friedrich Engels observations of the streets of London, “The very turmoil of the streets has something repulsive, something against which human nature rebels.” Burden, however, creates images that not only rebel against the bustling streets and forgotten housing estates but revel and excel within them.