The Enigmatic Universe of Glenn Brown

“I use pre-existing images to enter into pre-existing frames. I don’t like blank canvases or even the empty space of a piece of paper.” For this reason, Glenn Brown uses the past and the present as a treasure trove of prime material for his works. Music, literature and pop culture mix to create complex and sensual works that reveal an extraordinary knowledge of art history. As the title for the exhibition - the first large exhibition since 2009 - at the Gagosian, the artist draws from a song from Shakespeare’s Cymbeline, which speaks of the inevitability of death. Come to Dust shows off the extreme dexterity with which Brown uses paint, form and content, condensing them in sculptures and engravings rich with contrast but that also reveal the richness of his sources, from Rembrandt to Delacroix, from Raphael to Bernardo Cavallino. In his paintings, hybrid figures flesh out the sumptuous potential of oil painting, giving the illusion of fullness and volume, only to reveal, upon closer inspection, totally smooth and flat surfaces. For the British artist, it is the medium that is full of visceral life, like those translucent brushstrokes that offer up flesh, muscles, tendons, all “underneath the surface”. In Die Mutter des Künstlers, Brown not only distorts the proportions of the subject of Nu Feminin Assis by Eugène Delacroix, but, removing the head of the figure, emerges the spectator in his alternative reality. Then there’s Lamb of God, a highly personal interpretation of the crucifixion, inspired by the motifs of Georg Baselitz.
Samantha De Martin - © 2018 for Bulgari Hotel London