Co-edition with Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles.
Authors : Glenn Brown, Bice Curiger, Judicaël Lavrador.
Technical details : 24,5 x 31 cm, 96 pages.
Language : français-anglais.
Published on 2016.
Isbn : 978-2-35864-092-3.
Public price : 26€.
One of the most singular British artists working today, Glenn Brown draws his inspiration from art history, which he revisits and reinterprets in a unique manner. This catalogue, dedicated not only to his paintings but also to his sculptures and drawings, aims to convey the full creative scope of Glenn Brown’s oeuvre and his leading role in the renewal of contemporary painting.
After completing his MA in 1992 at London’s distinguished Goldsmiths College, Glenn Brown, born in 1966, struck out against the prevailing artistic current. At this epoch painting – and figurative painting even more so – was viewed as the poor relation among the media available to modern art. While his contemporaries were asking themselves the question “Why bother painting?”, Glenn Brown chose to make the brushmarks of earlier masters, such as Vincent van Gogh, the subject of his paintings.
The Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles pays tribute to Glenn Brown with a major retrospective bringing together some thirty works. This event marks an important milestone, not only because it has been 16 years since the last retrospective of the artist’s oeuvre was held in France in 2000, but also because the exhibition unites all three media in which Glenn Brown is today active: painting, sculpture and drawing.
Since 2013 Glenn Brown has pursued drawing as an autonomous means of artistic expression, in graphic works whose surfaces are covered with an ensemble of marks and sinuous lines that interweave and reply to each other. His drawings also maintain a thematic and visceral relationship with his paintings and sculptures. These latter deploy brush strokes that have been liberated from the flat surface of his paintings and which now constitute condensed agglomerates in a medley of hues laid down on top of a base of bronze. The three new sculptures created by the artist for the exhibition Suffer Well may be read as 3D translations of the brushmarks of Frank Auerbach and of the misleading and dated colours of reproductions of works by Vincent van Gogh. One such reproduction, showing Field with Irises near Arles (of which the original painted by Van Gogh in 1888 can be seen in our other exhibition), provided the palette of Glenn Brown’s 2016 sculpture The Flowers of Arles. This profusion of tactile matter dialogues with the artist’s canvases which, although entirely smooth, likewise give the impression of an interplay of textures and feverish visual masses.
It is thus that Glenn Brown’s art reveals the subjective force of his translations of reproductions of works by earlier masters, his atomization of painting, and the inexhaustible inventiveness of his practice, which appropriates the styles and colours of drawings and classical paintings. Emanating from his works – whether drawings or paintings – is a plural, blurred and fluid reality, whose visual ambiguity evokes that peculiar to our own digital epoch.
The exhibition borrows its title Suffer Well from a song by the group Depeche Mode, as well as from one of the paintings on show, whose motif is constructed from the famous Head of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette (1885/86) by Van Gogh. Glenn Brown’s practice is fuelled by this same interweaving of “dissonant” references, ranging from the Baroque to German realism, from new wave music to the genre of horror – and passing, of course, via the works of Van Gogh, which the artist examines with the keen eye of a goldsmith.
[Bice Curiger, curator of the exhibition]
Exhibition Glenn Brown, « Suffer Well », Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles, from 14 May to 11 September 2016.