Cecily Brown at Gagosian Beverly Hills

02 September 2013

Be Nice to the Big Blue Sea, 2012

In this exhibition Brown continues to explore the tradition of the nude ensemble in painting. 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, resulting in encounters with subjects glimpsed, rather than fully seen. The relative clarity of some faces encourages the viewer to perceptually “finish” other, less defined figures, to resolve the gestural abbreviations. Each painting reveals an active present state, unfolding in a succession of deliberately fluid unresolved moments over time.

Brown draws equivocally from the history of painting as well as pop culture. By freeing her subjects and inspirations from their original contexts, she subverts the role of narrative in the construction of genre, and points to the slippage inherent in quoting from source. 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 flux. 6 September – 12 October 2013 at Gagosian Gallery. 456 North Camden Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210.

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