Glenn Brown (survey): Des Moines Art Center, Iowa
This work was painted during the same period as Brown’s other monumental floral still-life in this exhibition, Necrophiliac Springtime, but performs a significantly different emotional tone. As the blooms in this arrangement begin to look downward and shed their petals, their fleshy countenance and elongated stretch suggests a more skyward pursuit. The composition of flowers is drawn from the c.1800 painting A Basket of Roses by French painter and lithographer Henri Fantin-Latour (1836-1904), who was as well known for his still-lifes as British painter Sir Edwin Landseer (1802-1873) was for his depictions of animals. Both sold the majority of their works in England, and the latter’s 1842 painting of a stag walking across a lake with ducks flying overhead and mountains in the distance – titled The Sanctuary – is the basis for Brown’s landscape in MOTHER. The title of Landseer’s work provides another layer of possible interpretation as three pinstripe beams of golden light shine down from the upper left of the frame and pierce the flowers. Much like the heavenly spears of the angel in Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s iconic Ecstasy of St Teresa (1647-1652) in Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome, these lines deliver suffering and salvation at once. To which maternal entity these embodied flowers submit is, however, left a mystery.
– Steven Matijcio, Curator, Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, USA