In Richard Butler’s newest body of work – and in this case “body” can be taken quite literally – his portraits, brushwork and palette demonstrate a painter at the top of his game. The compositions are at once mysterious and ambiguous, as well as deft and graceful - nearly surgical - in their depiction of emotion. Mostly focusing on renditions of his daughter and a few close friends, Butler creates an intensely private vision - dark and dreamlike, as well as stark and unapologetic. Like the old adage about statistics and bikinis, what Butler’s paintings don’t reveal is just as important as what they do, and maybe even more so.
Recurring motifs in his work, such as his confessional booth latticework, black veils, distorted glass windows and shrouds of bubble wrap serve to further obscure his subjects. But the suggestive nature of his work allows the viewer to enter a new level of consciousness – of feeling, of reflection, of desire – offering a taste of the sublime. Butler’s titles reveal much about his obsession to portray emotion. For example, whenisaidiloveyouilied, whenisaidiwassorryilied, and loveasitmustwillreinventitself help decode the inner dialogue lurking both in the artist’s psyche and beneath his subjects’ façade. Butler is never sentimental, however; he doesn’t give into easy traps of nostalgia or preciousness, he is always direct and often Zen-like in his simplicity, his treatment of complex states of being.
Richard Butler was born in Hampton Court England. He studied painting at the Epsom School of Art and Design. Seventeen years ago, after a successful career as founder and singer/songwriter for the rock band The Psychedelic Furs, Richard returned to painting. He lives and works in Beacon, New York. This is his second solo show at Freight+Volume.