Waltman Ortega Fine Art is proud to present “The Amnesiac Hostess”, a solo exhibition by English artist Richard Butler. Comprised of the Butler’s recent oil paintings, the show opened for the public with a reception on Saturday, February 15th, 2020, at which the artist was present. This is Richard Butler's second solo exhibition with Waltman Ortega Fine Art. The show remains on view through March 31, 2020.
The close-up portraiture in the eerie work of Richard Butler, whose multi-disciplinary artistic practices range from visual art to music, is profoundly macabre. "The Amnesiac Hostess' is, in a sense, a collection of paintings of the 'every person'", states the artist, "This series of paintings focuses on the depiction of abstracted faces that might be familiar, but certainly not recognizable. By placing these figures against dark backgrounds the focus is then to identify the discernible features of these mystery characters. Outside of working within a traditional portrait context, these figures are more dependent on intuition. In this way, the work is less formulaic and more singular in its execution. Often 'collaged' from separate images of the same person, or on occasion different people, these portraits are, therefore, in a sense, identity fluid."
Butler's portraits are haunting tableaux, blurring any distinction between portraiture and contemporary art as they spin in intoxicated slow motion. In the small portrait "Amnesiachost," Butler depicts his daughter - "Some ninety percent of the paintings I make are based upon images of my daughter, usually distorted in one way or another," he explains. "She has become a cipher for me, an every man/woman." Butler creates dark portraits with abstract elements covering parts of his subjects' faces or hovering in midair. With titles like "Amnesiachostess," "Aportraitofamemory" "Aflightfromversailles," and "Lordbyronatviareggio," Butler's canvases combine the melancholy with a surreal, dreamlike state bathed in a kind of eerie silence.
Often, Butler’s subject’s face will be obscured by thick make-up, masks, confessional screens, veils and shrouds, creating a labyrinth of psychological layers which the viewer is invited to transverse, and gain an understanding of the subject as well as the self. Butler combines classic beauty and the surreal, even the grotesque, in haunting works that the artist insists “are just paintings.” Many are relatively small, almost lifesized, putting the viewer face to face with his subjects. Butler has said he thinks of these portraits as selfportraits — that they reflect feelings from his "own psyche."
Richard Butler was born in Hampton Court, England in 1956. He studied painting at the Epsom School of Art and Design (now Surrey Institute of Art and Design). Shortly after graduating from the art school, in 1977, Richard Butler became a founder and singer/songwriter for the British post-punk / new wave band "The Psychedelic Furs". Quickly gaining commercial success, his musical career kept him away from painting throughout the 80s and the 90s. In early 2000s, Richard Butler returned to painting and started exhibiting his art in the U.S. and Europe, including at Haunch of Venison and Robert Miller Gallery in New York, galerie Olivier Waltman in Paris, Waltman Ortega Fine Art in Miami, as well as international art fairs like Art Basel Miami Beach, Art Miami, Art New York and others. He prefers to call himself a painter who sings, rather than a singer who paints. He lives and works in New York.