Cecily Brown

25 Apr - 30 Aug 2009

© Cecily Brown
Summer Love, 2000
Oil on Canvas
190.5 x 228.6 cm. (75 x 90 in.)
Courtesy Thomas Holdings Inc. Collection

april 25, 2009 – august 30, 2009

Deichtorhallen Hamburg will arrange the artist’s first comprehensive exhibition in Europe. The show comprehends 48 works from 1998 – 2008.
The painter Cecily Brown (born in 1969), London-based but living in New York, mostly chooses erotic motives for her large-format canvases, which she nearly abstracts to such an extent that they dissolve into pure chromaticity. Her energetic pictures, working on the borders between abstraction and figuration, have been one of the most distinctive positions in current painting since around 10 years.
Her works are collected by the most renowned museums of the world, such as Tate Britain, and the artist is considered the shooting star of a new expressive painting. “I use erotic photography to study the human body. What interests me is the emotional matter of these patterns”, Cecily Brown says.
Brown's vigorous and tactile oil paintings evoke the breadth of human experience, particularly the emotions associated with touch, pleasure, and passion. Widely inspired by the history of painting, from the figurative orders of Nicolas Poussin, Edouard Manet, and William Hogarth to the heady abstract expressionism of Willem de Kooning, Brown brings to the conventions of the genre a bold and, at times, ribald femininity. Throughout her oeuvre, Brown has repeated certain motifs yet ascribes them different significations over time. For example the tent form -- a primary image in her work that she associates with childhood books and nomads as well as paintings by Picasso, Goya and Bosch—is, in the new work, layered with fresh imagery that obfuscates the original form in varying degrees.
In the densely worked scenarios of Brown's most recent paintings, flickering figures are enfolded in vivid pastoral landscapes and vanitas settings. Throughout the Skulldiver paintings, she carefully maintains the tension between abstract formal qualities and immanent figurative content, while in the Sarn Mere paintings, she continues to expound on the cautionary narrative fragments and sinister psychological undertones of her Black Paintings. Inspired in part by Mary Webb's Precious Bane (1924), the Sarn Mere paintings evoke an imaginary place, a lake where all manner of dark happenings transpire. In Carnival and Lent, one of Brown's largest paintings, her signature tectonic structure dissolves into a blur of activity where figures and faces can be glimpsed amidst the pure energies of the brush. Brown's previously representational schemes are rendered almost abstract through an increasing fragmentation of forms, underscoring her belief that her paintings should not have fixed meaning but rather reflect the flux of being in the world.
Although best known for her bravura large-scale work, Brown will show a series of jewel-like, small paintings, which she began as a means by which to interpret the role of human scale and perception in her fragmented subjects, using a variety of brushes and techniques. These smaller scale paintings, which usually remain untitled, are not studies or contingencies for larger paintings, but rather works in themselves where Brown explores and resolves ideas and forms that began to emerge in her larger work and acquire new significance in this format.
Cecily Brown has exhibited in numerous museums internationally, with solo exhibitions at the 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 (2005-2006); the Des Moines Art Center, Iowa (2006); and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2006-2007). Her work is included in many public collections including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and the Tate Gallery, London. Brown lives and works in New York.
Cecily Brown was born in London in 1969. She studied in London and received her Bachelors in 1993 in Fine Arts from the Slade School of Art in London. Shortly after moving to the U.S., Brown had her first solo exhibition in New York at Deitch Projects in 1997 and a second in 1998, both were met with tremendous critical and commercial success.
She has since established herself as one of the key figures in the strong resurgence of painting at the end of the nineties. Brown revels in the freedom she has forged as a young female painter, her work liberates and celebrates the sacred cows of old master figure painting.
Her winter 2000 exhibition at Gagosian Gallery, New York (SoHo) was her first with the gallery. In 2001 Brown had an exhibition at Contemporary Fine Art in Berlin and then in 2003 she had her first Los Angeles show at Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills. Since then she has had solo exhibitions at such prestigious institutions as the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; the MACRO, Rome; the Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid; Museum of Fine Art, Boston, MA; Kunsthalle Mannheim, Germany; Des Moines Art Center, IA and Modern Art Oxford, England. The artist has also participated in group exhibitions at the Galleria, Arco, Turin, the Saatchi Collection, London, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York and P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, NY.

Tags: Cecily Brown, Willem de Kooning, Édouard Manet, Pablo Picasso