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Trevor Burgess artist talk

Posted in Contextual Research

Flashback Records presents INVERSE COLOUR, an experimental series of paintings produced by artist Trevor Burgess. The artist’s use of inverse colour irrupted suddenly into his work in radical reaction to the shock of the Brexit referendum result in 2016. The fierce landscape of England’s iconic white cliffs that he impulsively painted on the very day the result was announced was followed up with paintings that invert the colour of significant images of England by Kokoschka and Ford Madox Brown. He says “These are history paintings. They are painted for the English people – for all people.”

And they are personal paintings. They speak of the impact of Brexit on his life, on his friends and family, on our inclusive culture, on attitudes to migrants, on the beautiful idea of freedom of movement in Europe. “How”, he asks, “did so much that I was proud of about my country get inverted? Don’t look to paintings for answers. Look at them to see.”

The exhibition also includes paintings made during the pandemic. Trevor Burgess had previously painted everyday life in the city. When the Covid crisis struck, cities shut down and the lockdown began, the artist found he could no longer continue painting pictures celebrating an urban social life that had suddenly disappeared. He turned again to inverse colour to express the sense of loss, fear and anxiety he was feeling.

With this inverted perspective, he looked again at some of his own previous work, and painted “re-mixes” of his own paintings in inverse colour. Here, the inversion registers how the Covid pandemic has profoundly changed how we look at the world: a change that goes deeper than the visible changes in the city’s appearance (emptier streets; boarded-up shops, people wearing masks). The ubiquitous threat is felt everywhere by everybody, but is ultimately intangible, invisible.

“Inverting the colour”, he says “became a way I could visualise the psychological change in how I saw even things that look just like they used to. The difficulty of imagining the picture in its true colours echoed the difficulty I now felt in imagining life returning to how it was.”

Flashback Records is delighted to host this exhibition at our new Crouch End premises which will be opening in early August, replacing our existing smaller shop. We are proud to welcome the wonderful LoFi Coffee as part of this new venture. 

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