In conversation with… Brendan Burns

The first contribution to RotaGiorgino’s  In Conversation with... series is Cardiff-based artist Brendan Burns

Artist in his studio

Brendan Burns in his Cardiff studio

Brendan Burns is an award-winning international artist who lives and works in Wales. His abstract paintings are inspired by the pool rocks, plant life and organisms of the Pembrokeshire Coast. Burns is represented by art dealers in London and New York. Also, his work is held at important public collections of international museums.

RG: Can you explain the concept of your art and illustrate how this has evolved throughout the time for you?

BB: My painting style has evolved fairly gradually over some 30 years now having worked with the same subject matter. I find that I have to keep rediscovering rather than reinventing a working process.

I find the whole aspect of what we mean by design really interesting as an artist painter.

Functionality, the aesthetic, materiality, sustainability are key.

So where does functionality fit into my work? What is the function of a painting or a piece of sculpture? For me it has to be so much more than the decorative or aesthetic.

My work has to make someone feel something, to make them think, to challenge preconception, to make them aware of what it is to be human. To rouse the senses, to give space for a relationship to be nurtured between the painting and the owner, to surprise, to bring joy. My paintings I hope will never simply be on the wall as aesthetic padding.


Painting Detail

‘Glint’ – Oil and wax on linen, 2018 – 160 x 200 cms

‘Flourish’ – Oil and wax on linen,  2019 – 160 x 200cms

RG: What inspires you the most?

BB: You would expect an artist to be of course inspired by the subject matter.

Yes – my walking the beaches and coastline edges of west Wales, Iceland, California and New Zealand are the subject matter, they are the triggers if you like. But it’s the materiality and act of painting itself that is equally inspirational.

The process of mixing colour, the tactility of oil paint, the scraping, layering, smudging, dripping all inspire how I relate to my initial subject – the landscape.

This balance between the inspiration outside and the studio practice as a painter work hand in hand.

Walking in Iceland

Brendan Burns working in Iceland 2018

RG: A unique and original aspect that characterise your work?

BB: My paintings are tactile, they hopefully stir the visual touch sensation, they are almost edible.

I like to think the synaesthetic (mixing of the senses) is strong when you look at them. The oil paint is mixed with wax in order to give it a body and consistency that is layered onto linen with a knife.

The silver and gold solvents enhance the 3d experience of these layers, shimmering and changing in different aspects of light.

As for subject matter, they take something usually extremely small such as a detail in lichen growth and by scaling it up makes it both abstract and joyous simultaneously.

Yellow painting

‘Rift’ – Oil and wax on linen , 2018 – 210 x 220 cms

RG: What is your preferred material?

BB: Oil paint mixed with wax gives me the opportunity to work thickly and with palette knives.

It’s almost like sculpting the painting.

All my paintings use and respect the natural quality of linen, its weave as well as its colour.

The paint then hovers on its surface, shimmering with solvents and sprays, weeping, staining, dripping and bleeding.

Water based paints can never give this presence and feel to the painting.

Green Painting

’Sing’ – Oil and wax on linen, 2019 – 135 x 310 cms

RG: What would you identify as the main current trend in design and which one will be the future one?

BB: Looking at the Art world in contrast to the Design world, what links the two of course is sustainability.

There are paints etc on the market that are more environmentally friendly, but more are needed.

As for ‘trend’ in terms of the art world subject matter, I think the landscape, beauty and the more contemplative aspects of the world have been taken on by leading international artists such as Damian Hirst and Alex Katz.

Painting detail

If you would like to read more about Brendan and his works, please see links below:

Brendan Burns

Brendan Burns Instagram Page

Osborne Samuel Gallery

© All pictures copyright of RotaGiorgino unless otherwise specified

© RotaGiorgino – Interior Designers and Architects in London – Luxembourg – Milan 

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