The exhibition at Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea in Turin is the first major presentation of Cecily Brown‘s (b. 1969, London) work in an Italian museum, assembling approximately fifty paintings and works on paper from distinguished American and European collections. New works from the artist are on view for the first time.
Cecily Brown‘s paintings encompass a wide range of sources that include newspapers, children’s books, and old masters. Besides the many art-historical references, Cecily Brown‘s work nourishes itself with up-to-date reality and is immersed in the social-network era. These communication media allow the spread of images beyond a precise time and without any hierarchical order, mixing up different cultural fields, epochs, styles, and suggestions. Her works are deeply rooted in the painting tradition but enhance themselves with this rapid dissemination of information, with this varied and widely shared imagery.
Cecily Brown‘s work confronts a variety of content with deep insight into the surrounding reality and through an intimate meditation, a psychological and introspective attitude toward the human soul. If we recognize a biographical element, however, it is not narrative but represents a glint, a pretext. Her paintings are a continuous stream of color and forms that accumulate and expand on the canvas in changing, multiple layers of influence. Staring at her paintings is like leaning out over an orchestra pit, where cultural and historical references are like musical instruments mixing their notes.
There are quite a few works on paper (more than thirty) included in the exhibition that show the richness of the techniques she uses, as she skillfully incorporates watercolor, gouache, drawings, and monotype in her artwork. Through these works on paper it becomes clear that the variation, fluctuation, and fluidity of the images that evolve are continuously analyzing a few themes also recurrent in her paintings.
The quick gesture of drawing, characteristic of sketches, has both a reflective and a meditative quality—an intuitive and impulsive immediacy, almost unconscious, that characterizes Cecily Brown‘s entire body of work. In her drawings the quick and instinctive approach emerges more clearly compared with the paintings, where it is mediated by the literary construction, the time of execution, and the conceptual substance.
- Installation view. Courtesy of GAM Torino