Considered an abstract-figurative artist, the paintings created by Richard Burlet are born of an inspiration that is French by inclination and Viennese by influence. The complex imagery of Burlet’s figurative paintings pays homage to a tradition in art that reigned supreme in Vienna in the late 1800s. The art, architecture and design of Vienna’s “Golden Age”, and the highly praised works of Gustav Klimt, are the greatest influences to Burlet’s artwork.
Burlet’s paintings are richly colored compositions in collage and oil and each displays a brilliant pastiche of ornamental detail that does not simply embellish the art, but becomes its content. His palette often reflects his affinity for red and purple – strong colors – and he strives for “a contrast of colors, of heat, contrast between some delicate, graceful faces, and an intense and powerful set of colors.” For Burlet, the interplay of figure and background, flatness and depth, object and image is the key to heightening the experience of his creations. His paintings evoke a dreamlike, floating state in which fantasy liquefies the world, tinting and bending to its own desires. It is in this approach to his artwork that Burlet’s paintings have an affinity with the most classic of figurative studies while also harkening to the psychedelic nature of 1960s art and design.
Burlet’s sensual figurative works have an abstract quality achieved by his use of collage and heavy paint on canvas. There is flatness to the imagery, yet rich dimension is created by myriad colors laid one on top of another with 24-karat gold and silver leafing then applied giving the canvas tone and texture. He uses gold and silver “for it’s light – no color can compete with it. It is an element that naturally does not belong on the painting, and therefore is thrilling to try to include it.” Another “material” that Burlet works with is memories. “The more distant they are, the more interesting they get, because they are distorted by time and living. They reappear through certain colors, certain shapes, even if they remain hazy.” The art is at once classic and exotic, sensual and tame. The figures appear as if in a dream, the colors intertwine with collage to create both mood and a multi-dimensional surface.