Richard J. Butler (b. 1986)

Lives and works in London

Drawing inspiration from ancient art and mythology, Richard J. Butler’s alluring paintings skirt the boundary between figuration and abstraction. Constructed of intricate surfaces built up in layers of grated pastel, acrylic gel and paint, his work often depicts figures and silhouettes that seem to dissolve within vast colour fields. Over the past seven years, the artist has developed a unique technique which consists of pressing large packing blankets onto the still wet painting, a method similar to that of decalcomania. The blankets’ vertical lines are transferred to the painted surface, leaving a systematic imprint on the canvas whilst distorting the image. When viewed from a distance, recognisable forms appear while up-close, miniature abstract landscapes abound, creating sensual and hallucinatory surfaces that explore painting’s illusionistic potential. Supplementing his painterly practice, Butler also works with miniature Polaroid photography. His series entitled A Second Sun (since 2018) is a growing archive of neglected flowers and plants taken in people’s gardens during his daily winter wanderings. These Polaroids, like his paintings, bear a timeless quality and celebrate the act of entropy, of life’s inevitable decline into disorder.   

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