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Review: Burton's work fits nicely at PSTL

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 14, 2009 - Bruce Burton's "Observation and Formulation" at PSTL Gallery is a small exhibit chock full of ideas, associations and connections to other artists and aesthetic practices, past and present.

About half of the eight works on display lean toward the minimalist-conceptual end of the spectrum, employing found fabric samples and inkjet tests.

These works evoke the color sample paintings of Gerhard Richter, as well as Kelley Walker, whose work, like Burton's, reads significance into the most mundane aspects of throwaway culture.

At the other end of the spectrum are works with more tactile, organic collections of objects, things like birds' nests, branches, orange peels and stones, reminiscent of Wunderkammer. "Something of the Night" is the most extensive of these, and one gets the sense that its objects are organized according to some underlying, though elusive, ordering principle.

What's more, the objects seem to define their own rationality, along the lines of Marcel Duchamp's para-scientific exercises (Duchamp's "Three Standard Stoppages" came to mind more than once in viewing Burton's exhibition).

A brilliant, complex allusion to Robert Rauschenberg's biographical "Combine" paintings is to be found in Burton's "Canyon."

This is a rich show, and kudos again go to Pace Framing, for selecting artists who can work miracles in tiny spaces.

Ivy Cooper, a professor at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, is the regular art reviewer for the Beacon.