Glenn Brown: Piaceri Sconosciuti : Museo Stefano Bardini, Florence
Die Mutter des Kunstlers' German title translates into “The Mother of the Artist,” but the pictured female is actually based upon a nude by the French Romantic painter Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863). In his quiet, yet haunting c.1820 depiction of Mademoiselle Rose, Delacroix seats the ruminating subject before a dark, velvet-like backdrop upon a non-descript block. With eyes averted she gestures mysteriously towards the viewer – offering her hand in an ambiguous gesture of simultaneous invitation and hesitation. In Brown’s revision he inverts the orientation of the image, crops the subject’s head, widens her torso and thickens her feet. She is cast in a luminous underwater indigo reminiscent of Pablo Picasso’s melancholic Blue Period (1901-1904) which we also see in sister paintings Shallow Deaths and The Great Queen Spider. Picasso’s series of monochromes made manifest the depression he felt following a close friend’s suicide and his plaintive travels through Spain. Brown’s version channels this tumult in a scenario reminiscent of the “Doubting Thomas” in Christian iconography, where a skeptical apostle insists he must probe Christ’s wound from the Cross to prove the Lord is risen from the dead. Brown’s nude and her outstretched finger bear the same shed of blood red as the wound across her ribs, engaging us with a gesture that is both confrontational and contrite. The mother of the artist has made a sacrifice, but the affect remains a question.
– Steven Matijcio, Curator, Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, USA, 2016