Finding universal truths in the abstract
Artist Robert Burgess’ first ever exhibition at Logan Art Gallery is a powerful journey of introspection, self discovery, and reinvention through abstract painting. The exhibit will be open until 20 January 2024.
The exhibition Paint on! is a collection of pieces that demonstrate not only his skill – which has been honed for decades in cities like New York and now Marsden – but also his love for the process.
His contemplative pieces, mostly acrylic and mixed media, feature explosions of paint, bold brushstrokes and figures that are rigorously layered over time.
For Robert, art is a free-flowing form of honest self-expression.
‘I’m often amazed at what these pieces become because, when I start them, I have no preconceived idea of where the work is going,’ he says.
‘Whereas if I was a landscape or portrait artist, I would know exactly what I’m trying to aim for.
‘All I do is dig deep within myself, explore what’s coming out that I’m reacting emotionally to and that’s what guides me.’
This approach is how Robert, originally a mechanical engineer, became a part of the New York art scene after a series of fated encounters.
After a disappointing experience in London, he relocated to New York and directly approached the director of the storied Pace Gallery.
This moment was critical for Robert’s career – and soon, his life.
‘I had no fear because I felt like I was being guided and he (the director) ended up being a source of support for many years,’ he says.
‘I’ve always had a great desire to do something special in the art world, to be with the best that I could be with.
‘And that’s what I did in New York – I lived on the Upper East Side, Greenwich Village, and L.I.C. Queens, had shows and met artists like Roy Lichtenstein. I fell in love with the city.’
Since returning to Australia, Robert has kept a low profile while continuing his art, which has evolved over time.
Some of his favourite pieces can be re-arranged in thousands of combinations to create new meaning.
‘This art, it’s living art – it’s expanding and growing and to me it’s like the universe, and I’m discovering this universe of art within my art,’ he says.
‘That’s the real purpose of my art – I’m hoping to inspire people to feel good and to see that it can go in places that they never dreamed of.
‘I love the idea of my art having thousands of possibilities because that’s how life is. Once you’re on the right path, the right doors open – everything seems to unfold like a flower.’
And although he’s received accolades that most artists can only dream of, Robert hopes his work will end up in New York’s Museum of Modern Art one day.
‘I’ve always had this crazy belief that I can contribute something on that level and that continues to be my driving force to this day,’ he says.
‘If you want to be an artist, just start – that’s the secret. Be bold about it, there’s no limit in this world to how far a person can go in any field.’
The Paint on! exhibition will be available for viewing until 20 January 2024. For more information, visit the Logan Art Gallery website.
For more information about the artist, visit the official Robert Burgess website.