Glenn Brown (survey): Des Moines Art Center, Iowa
The verdant bush in Debaser is inspired by the work of French Realist painter Gustave Courbet (1819-1877), who unabashedly challenged conventions in both painting and politics throughout his life. Much of his activism was, however, embedded in time-honored genres such as landscapes, seascapes, hunting scenes, nudes and still lifes. In this 2008 work, Brown samples a hedge from a larger Courbet landscape and slides it across a number of these categories – painting a large anthropomorphic bulb with a number of suggestive crevices and flourishes. Each of the corners are painted in a lighter color, “trimming” them in a manner that reflects the influence of one of French surrealist Man Ray’s (1890-1976) few paintings produced in his cross-disciplinary career. In so doing, Brown places a higher degree of emphasis on the saturated colors of flowers that have begun to rot, intensifying in hue much like raw meat on the precipice of decay. Such dark lyricism befits a title inspired by the American alt-rock band The Pixies, whose songs have spanned such topics as extraterrestrials, surrealism, incest, and biblical violence.
– Steven Matijcio, Curator, Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, USA