In Conversation: Kristian Burford & Jan Tumlir, Oct. 24th at 4:00pm

Samuel Freeman is pleased to announce Scenes, a groundbreaking exhibition of work by Kristian Burford. The artist will present for the first time three discrete scenes staged concurrently in one venue, accompanied by a suite of small bronzes which serve as precursors to the larger works. Each scene is a single self-contained sculpture, exhibited together to create an immersive and deeply affecting psychological environment for the viewer.

She is flooded with light,
He is saturated with liquid – and we are inundated,
We are plagued with — and thrilled by — the uncertainty and chaos of our nature.

Always the primal fantasy of becoming the world again, of surrendering to it as to death, of relinquishing control to things more real than God.

What did Pollock say, “I am nature” the boatman’s drip paintings dissipate in the water. He is nature.


Kristian Burford’s Returned Daughter situates the viewer as the parent of an estranged daughter, thrust into the role at the exact moment when the wayward child returns home, evidently in a state of high emotion. Her expression is ambiguous, indistinguishable between distress and excitement. The resulting friction is unnerving, presenting a storyline that cannot be resolved. Has she been assaulted and is returning home to seek sanctuary, or do the deep shadows behind her conceal more sinister intentions?

Installed in the gallery courtyard, a small boat rests improbably on the concrete floor, cocked up at an angle by the weight of a standing man urinating over the rail. This normally private act is on full display, frozen and proffered, carefully held at a distance through the permanent closure of the glass doors. Both inside but outside, the figure becomes more and less than a man; he is a specimen on display and a metaphor for primal urges. Always kept at a distance, the audience becomes a group voyeur, where images of peep shows and zoological dioramas combine.

Resting atop a circular plinth calculated to show a reclining figure just beyond reach, Light Bath evokes a funereal air lit with a glow of the supernatural. A scaled-down figure lies within a bed of light in the center of a chapel-like structure, but she might as well be laid upon an altar, or perhaps sinking into a pool. The initial feel of spirituality and ascension is eroded from below, and it is the viewer’s doubting presence that corrodes the scene; in this piece it is the viewer who is the whisper in the darkness.

Kristian Burford was born in 1974 at Waikerie, South Australia. He studied at the South Australian school of Art between 1992 and 1995 earning a Bachelor’s degree with Honors. In the four years following he taught at his alma mater and exhibited in Australia including multiple museum surveys of Australian contemporary art. In 1998 he was awarded the coveted Samstag visual arts scholarship which enabled him to complete a Masters degree at Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, California in 2002 where he studied under Mike Kelley, Stephen Prina, Sylvere Lotringer and Jan Tumlir among others. Since that time he has exhibited consistently in the US and Europe. Burford’s work was included in Mike Kelley’s re-staging of ‘The Uncanny’ at The Tate, Liverpool and MUMOK, Vienna. Other major exhibitions include A Triple Tour: Collection Pinault at The Conciergerie, Monument Nationale, Paris. His work is represented in the Pinault Collection, France, and the MEFIC Collection, Spain. Burford Lives and works in Los Angeles, California.

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