Gagosian Gallery is pleased to present recent paintings by Cecily Brown, her first solo exhibition in New York since 2008.
Brown’s most recent paintings treat the subject of the nude ensemble, revealing an attitude that draws equivocally from the genre of history painting and pop culture. By freeing her subjects and inspirations from their original contexts, Brown subverts the role of narrative in the construction of genre and points to the slippage inherent in quoting from source. In her visible grapple with formal concerns, she crowds each canvas with stylistically diverse anonymous figures—some loosely suggested, others identifiably expressive—who fulfill her explicit aim of conveying figurative imagery in a just-elusive shorthand, as directly and vigorously as possible.
In fleshy yet chromatically sober paintings, such as a monumentally scaled untitled work of 2012, clusters of diverse and individuated nudes crowd the scene, glaring and grimacing, as if from some unnamed purgatory. At the base of the painting, the odd limb is visible, the body to which it belongs buried beneath the confrontational energies of the group. Fragmented figures and faces, reduced to complexions or expressions, dissolve into kaleidoscopic concentrations of grey, purple, and sienna with a sudden accent of electric teal or orange. Eyelashes, teeth, hair, the curve of a breast or a shoulder blade may stand out from contrasting brushwork, or separate into momentary tonal distillations amidst the compositional chaos. Brimming with the intensity of human presence, these paintings play out Brown's persistent fascination with the tension between bold painterly gesture and figurative content.
Cecily Brown was born in London in 1969. Public collections include the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and Tate Gallery, London. Solo exhibitions include “Directions: Cecily Brown,” Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C. (2002); MACRO, Rome (2003); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid (2004); Museum of Modern Art, Oxford (2005); Kunsthalle Mannheim (2005–06); Des Moines Art Center, Iowa (2006); Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2006–07); Deichtorhallen, Hamburg (2009);“Based on a True Story,” GEM, Museum of Contemporary Art, The Hague (2010, traveled to Kestner Gesellschaft, Hannover); Essl Museum, Klosterneuburg, Austria (2012).
Brown lives and works in New York.