I like my paintings to have one foot in the grave, to be not quite of this world. For me they exist in a dream world, a world that is made up of all the accumulated images stored in our subconscious that coagulate and mutate when we sleep.
Gagosian New York is pleased to present an exhibition of recent paintings and sculptures by Glenn Brown. This will be his first solo exhibition in New York since 2007.
Mining art history and popular culture, Brown has created an artistic language that transcends time and pictorial conventions. His mannerist impulses stem from a desire to breathe new life into the extremities of historical form. Through reference, appropriation, and investigation, he presents a contemporary reading of images new and remembered. Borrowed figures and landscapes are subjected to a thoughtful and extended process of development in which they gradually transform into compelling, exuberant entities. In sophisticated compositions that fuse diverse histories—of the Renaissance, Impressionism, and Surrealism—Brown creates a space where the abstract and the visceral, the rational and irrational, the beautiful and grotesque, churn in a dizzying amalgamation of reference and form.
In paintings completed over the last three years, including some of his largest works to date, Brown confronts traditional subjects of still life and portraiture. With characteristically fleshy textures beneath remarkably flat and glossy surfaces, the scenes evoke traditional memento mori. Measuring over ten feet in width and taking the title of Salvador Dalí’s 1936 painting, Necrophiliac Springtime (2013) is a meticulous arrangement of decaying yet inexplicably steaming flowers made giant against the backdrop of a haunting landscape, their intense aroma suggested by diaphanous wisps curling into the night sky. Through scrutiny and amplification, Brown displaces motifs from their original context. Acidic, elongated portraits of elderly, saintly men are unnatural yet familiar. A reclining nude is turned on its end, while a succulent piece of meat is executed in grisaille. In these ardently painted visions, Brown transforms Rococo, Baroque, and Expressionist sources into compelling contemporary narratives. The Death of the Virgin (2012) depicts a swath of figures in the grip of an amorphous specter. The marble-textured forms are set against an ominous black void, a reimagining of a François Boucher sketch of the Rape of Persephone; the painting also appropriates the black-and-white palette of Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s sixteenth-century Death of the Virgin. With each subject suspended in isolation, Brown offers a vividness that suggests the spiritual and invites contemplation.
Brown’s characteristic sculptures—deliquescing forms comprised of thickly layered oil paint in an agitated palette of acid and earthy tones—are taken to ambitious new levels in a twelve-foot-wide woman’s torso, his largest sculpture to date. In other new works, he takes existing antique bronze figures and playfully masks them in thick brushstrokes that evoke the obsessive paint layering of Frank Auerbach. Bronze limbs protrude, allowing glimpses of the sculptures, which have been all but overtaken by glutinous layers of paint. Overwhelming the found object, Brown creates a pastiche of old and new, figurative and abstract, painting and sculpture.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue including an essay by Rudi Fuchs.
Gagosian Quarterly Spring 2023
The Spring 2023 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Roe Ethridge’s Two Kittens with Yarn Ball (2017–22) on its cover.
Glenn Brown: From the Inside Out
Novelist Andrew Winer reports on the formal, conceptual, historical, and philosophical perspectives embedded in Glenn Brown’s latest paintings and drawings. The two talked after the opening of the artist’s recent New York exhibition Glenn Brown: We’ll Keep On Dancing Till We Pay the Rent.
Glenn Brown: We’ll Keep On Dancing Till We Pay the Rent
In conjunction with his exhibition Glenn Brown: We’ll Keep On Dancing Till We Pay the Rent at Gagosian in New York, the artist sits down to discuss his new paintings, sculptures, and drawings.
Glenn Brown and Jacky Klein
Glenn Brown speaks with art historian Jacky Klein about working between mediums, his first finished painting of 2021, and the evolution of his artistic voice.
Augurs of Spring
As spring approaches in the Northern Hemisphere, Sydney Stutterheim reflects on the iconography and symbolism of the season in art both past and present.
Visions of the Self: Jenny Saville on Rembrandt
Jenny Saville reveals the process behind her new self-portrait, painted in response to Rembrandt’s masterpiece Self-Portrait with Two Circles.
April 28–May 4, 2021
Mining art history and popular culture, Glenn Brown has created an artistic language that refuses categorization, combining a wide range of periods from art history through reference, appropriation, and precise attention to detail. His mannerist impulses stem from a desire to breathe new life into past images; they are treasuries of raw material, offering countless images, titles, and techniques to be combined and deconstructed, producing complex and sensuous works of art that are resolutely of our time.
Photo: Edgar Laguinia
We’ll Keep On Dancing Till We Pay the Rent
November 8–December 23, 2022
541 West 24th Street, New York