160 x 180 cm | 59 x 66 in
Original painting in oil on canvas.
"‘Thriving like an advanced species in a neutral atmosphere’ is a title coined from J. G. Ballard’s novel High Rise. I wanted to create a painting that depicted the omnipresence and scale of the estates towers, which when I was a child felt huge and gargantuan. I also wanted to ‘deify’ the architecture, its symbolism and quest for utopia. Through a process of erasure and overpainting the original figurative drawings are ‘knocked back’ with multiple layers of white in an effort to create the neutral atmosphere referenced in the title. The final surface layer of the painting is then covered with cascading typography, a reference to my past and the importance of allegory and storytelling in my work."
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.