Venice Biennial 50th International Art Exhibition: Dreams and Conflicts - The Dictatorship of the Viewer: Italian Pavillion, Venice Biennale
This diptych brings together a pair of works modeled after paintings by Jean-Honoré Fragonard on the left, and George Baselitz on the right. In the former, Brown removes the young, winged angel from Fragonard's sensual Venus and Cupid (1760), and casts the bare-breasted Venus in a green-red color palette characteristically employed by German expressionist Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938). For the latter he casts Baselitz's peculiar close-up of a monstrous finger (with accompanying cracked nail) in the same color scheme before mutating its contours. Peering across the sister paintings in They Threw Us all in a Pit and Built a Monument on Top…, Brown suggests a liquid metamorphosis between body, countenance and appendage as forms bleed into and out of one another. Both subjects are surrounded by a sky full of plump clouds reminiscent of those depicted by the Renaissance Master Raphael (1483-1520), stripping the figures of immediate context and allowing them to float in a nebulous dream state. Speaking to the tongue-in-cheek alchemy that takes place as a monumental finger meets the goddess of love in this diptych, the ode-laden title is derived loosely from an album title by the Los Angeles punk band The Liars.
– Steven Matijcio, Curator, Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, USA