Robert Xavier Burden: Relics

Robert Xavier burden: relics

february 18–June 4, 2023

In Honor and Memory of Curator Bob Self

“In 2006 I began a series of large-scale oil paintings depicting the small action figures that I played with as a boy. Initially these figures were set against fabric, wallpaper, and rug patterns from my childhood home. Over the years the decorative motifs have become more complex and derived from historical references, often incorporating toys from various generations, but the motivation behind the work remains the same. I am inspired by the amorphous line that is drawn between imagination and reality, childhood wonder and adult practicality, and the ineffability of what can turn a piece of plastic into an almost talismanic object. There is an obvious irony in spending thousands of hours to create a single painting that glorifies a cheap, mass-produced toy. And while that irony could reflect issues of commodity fetishism, consumer addiction, Peter Pan Syndrome or even shallow idolatry, I want these paintings to represent something positive in my life. Although it was sheltered and naïve, there was a freedom in my childhood. It was free from the politics of race and sex and religion. It was free from the weight of history. It was free from rhetoric and paranoia, shame and regret, cynicism and despair. There is nothing profound about commenting on the minor tragedy of losing one's innocence, or the struggle to maintain one's idealism. I just want to renew my faded sense of awe.”

-Robert Xavier Burden

Robert Xavier Burden: Relics, installed at Oceanside Museum of Art

Image 1 of 48


Celebrate with us on March 18, 2023

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the celebration event for this exhibition has been changed from the originally scheduled date and will now be held on March 18, 2023.


Visit the artist’s website and Instagram page

If you would like to learn more about the artwork, including if the artist has work available to purchase, please email

Artwork pictured at the top of the page: Robert Xavier Burden, The Fox Painting (detail), 2020. Oil on canvas, 2020. 65" x 65".

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