Cecily Brown is recognized as one of the key figures in the strong resurgence of painting at the end of the 1990s. Her expressionistic paintings commonly depict bodies in sexual acts, which are disguised and abstracted within her gestural use of paint. With loaded brush marks and fragmented colour - often of a fleshy palette - Brown’s works teeter on the edge of abstraction and figuration. Moving between ambiguity and explicitness, allusions of human organs are juxtaposed with whole figures in sexual embraces to create readable but disturbed scenes which exude a sense of erotic exuberance.
Her energetic application of paint, configured from fragmented marks that lead the viewer’s eye to dance across the canvas, recalls abstract expressionism and the works of Jackson Pollock. Reconfiguring this aesthetic to explicitly depict erotic scenes, Brown wittily reinterprets and disrupts the male-dominated tradition of abstract expressionist painting that is so heavily associated with male virility and sexuality. Brown’s vigorous mark-making unashamedly engages in this male dominated history of painting to seemingly celebrate both the act of painting and the act of sex. Brown herself has said that painting is a metaphor for sex*, and her sensual and tactile use of paint, coupled with her exuberant and agitated mark-making seems to not only depict sexual acts but allude to the sensation of sex.
Brown draws imagery from diverse sources, from pornographic magazines, comic books and Hollywood movies, to art history. Taking reference from a wide range of art historical sources, Brown has explored different genres of paintings in her oeuvre, from the old masters to abstract expressionism, and from momenti mori to impressionist landscapes. Brown revels in the freedom she has forged as a young female painter to liberate traditional genres of painting and render them in her own distinctive style.
Cecily Brown was born in London in 1969. She studied Fine Arts at the Slade School of Art, London, graduating in 1993. In 1994 Brown moved to New York, where she currently lives and works. Cecily Brown has had solo exhibitions at such prestigious institutions as the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC; MACRO, Rome; Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid; Museum of Fine Art, Boston; Kunsthalle Mannheim, Germany; Des Moines Art Center, US; National Museum of Art, Osaka; and Modern Art Oxford, UK. The artist has also participated in group exhibitions at the Galleria, Arco, Turin; Saatchi Gallery, London; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York and PS1 Contemporary Art Center, New York. 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 Collection, London.
*Barry Schwabsky, "Cecily Brown Deitch Projects" Artforum, November 1998, p114.
Brown’s work/Djurberg’s work) will be exhibited in ROLLO Contemporary Art’s travelling exhibition ’The Body in Women’s Art Now: Part 2 - Flux.’