Charles Browning "Beauty Trap" and "Master Drawings"
Beauty Trap is Charles Browning’s second solo exhibition with the gallery and features eight new paintings full of allegorical allusions focused on the vexed idea of beauty itself. Beautiful and stunningly rendered in detailed oil on canvas, these paintings utilize the Dutch floral and still life painters of the 17th and 18th centuries, in particular the work of Jan van Huysum and Albert Mignon, as an entry point to interrogate ideas of luxury, consumption, and colonialism. Already unnatural pastiches selected from various sources in the original Dutch works, Browning multiplies the unreality of his paintings by juxtaposing the idealized and artificial European still life against an American setting, a Bierstadt canyon or an American Chestnut tree. In this the paintings of Beauty Trap become allegories for consumption and excess ever present in the historic Colonial vision of ripe virgin lands and question our contemporary ideals of status and art. For Browning though this search for new territory to consume, the need for beauty, and indeed the act of painting itself, is ultimately a trap, a cloud of endless possibility and desire that both the viewer and the artist, endlessly circling from detail to detail, cannot escape.