Studio Visit: A Conversation with Kristian Burford




interview / art

A Q&A with Kristian Burford


Q: Tell us about your background as an Artist. 

I grew up outside of a small town on the Murray River in South Australia and spent much of my childhood wandering in an environment that remained fairly wild. My Mother, a talented artist in her own right who taught art to school children for much of her career, inspired and nurtured my creativity from an early age. At age fourteen, I was sent to boarding school which was a difficult transition. With no nature, girls or motorcycles, Art became my refuge. I went on to study for an undergraduate degree at the South Australian School of Art and a masters at Art Center College of Design here in California.



Q: What is your motivation for creating nude forms?

I could speak at length on this subject but the simplest answer, betraying the most naive motivation, comes closest to the truth: In taking the human body as subject, it is possible to create the idea of a being: naked, explicit, hiding nothing, knowing everything; a being to fall in love with.



Q: How do you see intimacy intersecting with your work?

A primary human fantasy (and fear) is to breach the perimeter of the self and become the world beyond (to return to a primordial undifferentiated state). For centuries, Art has exploited an emotional loophole, in order to exercise this fantasy, by presenting human subjects so alienated, so transcendent, that it seems that only they and us exit, as one, with perfect knowledge and complete intimacy. The figure of Christ presents such a fantasy. I have exploited this loophole for many years although my saints are without any conventional virtue and more recently have even become monstrous. There is an important link between terror and intimacy ... it has something to do with mirrors. 



Q: How long did it take to create the finished installations seen in these images? What was your process?

The works take anywhere from six months to five years to create. An ever growing pool of ideas exits in a constant state of evolution. Each idea begins with the imagining of an experience in which I perceive a potential against which each subsequent development in the evolution of the work is tested.

Maquettes and models are made in a process of development that continues into the full scale production of the work which has, in the past, most often utilized a live model as visual reference. Environments are developed and built around the human subjects as they are created. The clay originals are then cast and usually painted with a series of glazes in oil.  



Q: Do you envision your installations in any particular physical spaces? 

In general, I imagine the worlds that the works produce as parallel universes that exist independently of their surroundings much like the content of a dream does. There are a few exceptions to this rule: 'Light Bath' is a model for a folly to be produced full scale atop a shallow hill in a park or garden.


Burford is represented by Praz-Delavallade, Paris and Los Angeles