Galerie Max Hetzler presented a solo exhibition by Glenn Brown, which opened on September 5, 2015. The exhibition featured for the first time an entirely new aspect of Brown’s work: drawings on paper and polypropylene, and included one recent sculpture. This was Brown’s first solo exhibition with Galerie Max Hetzler in Paris, following the artist’s four exhibitions with the gallery in Berlin.
For a very long time in the history of art, drawings have been primarily considered as preliminary studies or sketches for painting. In the case of Glenn Brown, the drawings come after the paintings, as if they were their natural and logical consequence and counterpoint. Despite their classical first appearance, Brown’s drawings present the same alterations, qualities and dilemmas as his paintings: the appropriation from an existing source imagery (reproductions of ancient drawings), the transformations, the distortion, the collusion of styles, the virtuosity of the pen strokes allowing asleep motives to take on a new life, deliquescence, atemporality and the abolition of the clear distinction between figuration and abstraction.
Most of the drawings presented in the exhibition have been made on polypropylene, a material whose main characteristic is its transparency, allowing Brown to draw indistinctly on both sides – something the painting cannot offer, as well as the overlapping of images. This relationship between the artist and the support is not insignificant: although he’s working on a two-dimensional plan, Brown can turn around his motif, there is no clear recto and verso; there are faces. The sculpture presented in the exhibition is no mere coincidence. It belongs to the same family of artefacts.
The expected simplicity of the technique is contrasted by the dense and tormented compositions. Different types of lines, shadings and strokes, even ink stains are present on the drawings. The recurrence of what could be called gestural lines around the figures gives both a certain musicality and a cartoonesque aspect to the works, recalling that with Glenn Brown’s art, popular culture is never too far from art history. They also add mystery to the scenes, like if there was something happening somewhere around these familiar faces, trees, figures in clouds or standing. What was often called morbidity when talking about Brown’s paintings is also deeply present in the drawings, especially when they’re combined with a non-finito aesthetics. The notion of uncanny takes on its full meaning.
Albeit Brown’s black and white drawings have the precision of a mechanical reproduction technique – one could think of surrealist etchings collages for instance – they have the same force as the paintings.
Glenn Brown was born in 1966 in Hexham, Northumberland (UK). He lives and works in London. In 2000 he was nominated for the Turner Prize. He had solo exhibitions in renowned institutions such as Domaine de Kerguéhennec, France (2000), the Serpentine Gallery (London) in 2004, Kunsthistorisches Museum (Vienna) in 2008, Tate Liverpool, which travelled to Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo (Turin) in 2009 and Ludwig Museum (Budapest) in 2010; Upton House, Oxfordshire (UK) in 2012 and Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem in 2013. His work was also included in several group exhibitions such as the 50th Venice Biennale, 2003; “Ecstasy: In & About Altered States”, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 2005; “Mapping the Studio: Artists from the François Pinault Collection”, Punta della Dogana and Palazzo Grassi, Venice, 2009; “10,000 Lives”, Gwangju Biennale, Korea and “Second Hand”, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, 2010; “Riotous Baroque: From Cattelan to Zurbaran”, Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain and “Glenn Brown and Rebecca Warren: Collected Works”, Rennie Collection at Wing Sang, Vancouver, 2013, “Post-Pop: East meets West”, Saatchi Gallery, London “Visages : Picasso, Magritte, Warhol…”, Vieille Charité, Marseilles, and “Carte blanche à Christian Lacroix”, Musée Cognacq-Jay, Paris, 2014 “Art Fiction, de la ville aux étoiles”, Vieille Charité, Marseilles, 2015. His work is represented in the collection of major museums including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
An upcoming solo exhibition will be held at the Fondation Vincent Van Gogh Arles, France and the Des Moines Art Center (Iowa, USA), travelling to Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati (Ohio, USA) in 2016 and in 2017 Galerie Rudolfinum (Prague) will organize a major survey.