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Ric Burkitt - Contemporary Artist

I was born in Bendigo in 1956, moved to Melbourne in 1970, and to Perth in 1985. My working life began as a graphic designer at BP Australia, in Melbourne, before moving back to Bendigo in 1983. Two years there [as an art gallery assistant curator and newspaper graphic artist] was more than enough, and I headed west on a BMW R80 RT twin pot with the winds of freedom at my back!


Drawing has been my passion since my early school days [where I was often the only student in art class], and Fine Art provided a constant source of pleasure in a world dominated by deadlines and repetition. It wasn’t until 1990, however, that I enrolled at Curtin University to formally study painting. Three years later I graduated [with Distinction], and went back to graphic design.


In 1997 I started teaching at a VET college part-time, whilst running a freelance graphics business. Part-time became full-time, then Head of Department, and art remained a hobby. Now, more than twenty years later, I am finished with teaching visual arts and graphic design, and my casual art studio time has become the full-time occupation I coveted for so many years.


I am not hampered by the need to stick to one thing. My artwork is an eclectic mix of styles, mediums, techniques, and interests. Art, for me, is an endless journey of experimentation and discovery, a limitless world of possibilities and potential, and a source of immense pleasure.


Over recent years, I have explored the notion of expression through the abstract, of making connections on a more emotional level than those offered by working in a more representational style. I avoided this approach for three years at Curtin [uni], choosing to dig my heels in and stick with figurative realism, for the most part. I get it now, and have endless ideas and projects to explore. Abstraction is like an incessant buzz in my mind, and everything I do in the studio these days seems to tilt my painting in that direction. Abstraction provides both freedom and a delicious frustration!


My non-representational paintings begin as random marks on canvas [or board]. The initial aim is to build a history of marks by fashioning a series of shapes, lines, contrasts, textures and colours, and then obliterating many of them and starting over. No decision is entirely wrong; each mark adds to the complexity and style of the work and is therefore significant and essential on the road to resolving the work.


Often, it is the mistake made that redirects the painting, that suggests other ideas that may progress the work. There are, therefore, no absolute mistakes, there are just some decisions that seem better than others, in hindsight!


Each new layer exposes some of the features of previous layers, and this process of addition and subtraction, of discarding and replacing, reworking and retaining fragments of things, build the painting’s history, and lead the artist to the final work. The techniques employed can be the same or similar in each work, but the difference comes through the reaction of the artist to what is happening as each layer is revealed.


‘Listening’ to the painted marks is important, as I react solely to their recommendations, be they good or bad ones, ultimately.

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