Deborah Brown's paintings are inspired by the industrial landscape of Bushwick, the location of the artist's studio, where car salvage lots, cement factories, and scrap metal yards are common sights. For several years Brown has depicted this subject matter though a sci-fi lens that magnified the strangeness of a world where crushed cars are stacked like ziggurats and all human presence has been removed.
In Outer Limits, the artist revisits the realm of science fiction but departs from objective reality toward abstraction and anthropomorphism. In the new work, pods of debris rise against the sky like monuments to a post-industrial utopia: Easter Island meets Blade Runner. The paintings reflect the influence of Cubism, the court portraits of Velázquez, the work of Picasso from the 30s and 40s, the paintings of Philip Guston and George Condo, and fetish and tribal objects from Africa and Oceania.
The paintings depict the human head as a vessel for the organic, the kinetic, and the chaotic, some drawn from portraits in the canon of art history, others inspired by characters from literature. The images recall the torqued cranes and squashed amusement rides from the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy and the debris-strewn salvage lots of Bushwick. On closer inspection, the works reveal a tangle of brushwork verging on abstraction. What emerges is a hybrid of the mechanical and the organic--a metaphor for contemporary consciousness and the divided nature of identity.
Deborah Brown received a B.A. in Art from Yale, summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and an M.F.A. from Indiana University. Since 1982 she has lived and worked in New York where she is represented by Lesley Heller Workspace. She has had one-person shows at galleries and museums around the country. Her public art projects include mosaics commissioned by the MTA for the Houston Street subway station in Manhattan and roundels for the Royal Caribbean Cruise Terminal at the Port of Miami for Miami-Dade Art in Public Places. In addition to her practice as an artist, she owns and directs the gallery Storefront Ten Eyckllery and serves on the board of NURTUREart, the artist advisory board of BRIC, and Community Board #4 in Bushwick. This is her fourth show with Lesley Heller.
Artist Talk: Sunday, February 23, 4:30pm