Glenn Brown (survey): Des Moines Art Center, Iowa
In an ideal scenario Brown would paint directly from his art historical references (rather than photographic reproductions), but in the case of this work, it is one of the few times that Brown tried to purchase the actual piece. His bid was not successful in the end, but this 17th century rendition of St. Jerome Meditating over the Bible by Italian Baroque painter Bernardo Strozzi’s (1581-1644) nevertheless provides the blueprints for In My Time of Dying. As Brown subsequently brings Strozzi’s penitent saint into the 21st century, he turns Jerome’s skin a bright shade of emerald green and casts his upturned eyes in cloudy blue – obscuring our portal to his personality and delimiting his heavenly gaze. Both gestures challenge the decorum of devotional portraits and the affinities of most art buyers, which is often what Brown intends. The saint’s signature beard is given a similar treatment to those seen in The Shallow End and Reproduction, becoming a sinuous stream of color and form that takes on a life of its own. In this work, however, it swirls to a more intense degree – merging with the subject’s head and hair as they threaten to disintegrate completely. Such is the self-destructive streak that Brown performs to an ever more pronounced degree in this painting.
– Steven Matijcio, Curator, Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, USA