Robert Burden's "Toy Box" features epic portraits of the small action figures that he played with as a boy. The patterns that adorn many of his canvases are taken from fabric, carpet or wall-paper patterns from his childhood home. His original toy is often framed in a shadowbox attached to the painting, acting as a modern reliquary for these figurines. Burden enjoys the irony of spending hundreds and hundreds of hours in order to make a single painting that glorifies an object that was cheaply, mass-produced for millions of kids.
"I remember these figures as being magnificent. They represented power, beauty, good and evil, and they captured every aspect of my imagination. As a young adult, these toys are wonderfully nostalgic, but they're no longer amazing to me. The ineffability of what can turn a cheap yet coveted piece of plastic into an almost talismanic object was the original inspiration for this work. I am also motivated by the amorphous line that is drawn between imagination and reality, childhood wonder and adult practicality. Though sheltered and naive, there was a freedom in my childhood. It was free from the politics of race and religion. It was free from the burdens of history. It was free from rhetoric and paranoia, shame and regret, cynicism and despair. There is nothing profound about commenting on the minor tragedy of losing one's innocence, or the struggle to maintain one's idealism. I just want to renew my faded sense of awe." – Robert Burden
Robert received his MFA in painting from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2007 and his BFA from Queen's University in 2005. He was the recipient of the Murphy & Cadogan Fellowship Award in 2006 and the Irene Pijoan Memorial Painting Award in 2007. He has exhibited in venues throughout North America including White Walls Gallery in San Francisco and Roq la Rue Gallery in Seattle. Burden currently lives and works in San Francisco.
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