And Thus We Existed: The Incomparable Glenn Brown
The work of Glenn Brown cannot—should not—be confidently compressed in a sentence of two, and maybe that helps explain why Galerie Max Hetzler is devoting both of their Berlin locations to the British artist and his drawings, paintings and sculptures. And thus we existed, showing through January 23, 2021 is Brown’s fifth exhibition with the gallery, taking over the Bleibtreustrabe 45 venue, as well as their new space a few doors away at 15/16.
To state that the artist appropriates existing masterpieces misunderstands his work, to describe the process as a reimagining is to shortchange it. Much as the sight of an object can trigger another visual or memory, Brown delights in that original and inspired by its components, alights on his personal idea for creating a new piece. Guided by the primary figuration, he deconstructs and builds up, breaking down elements while retaining morsels of its materiality. An expressive mass of flowing curls and meandering lines are elegant and nonchalant, contemporary but also timeless.
Whether working with ink on paper or with acid hues on the panel, Brown prepares painstakingly, creating tangled narratives. His linework suggests tumult and texture, but surfaces are smooth.positions himself as a creationist capable of materializing matter through his exceptional technique and brushwork. Flowing strands and gestures unite the pieces, but echoe his labyrinthine thought process.
Echoing the aesthetics of Old Masters such as Abraham Bloemaert, or Albrecht Dürer, the drawings on paper are similarly complex but resonate more camly. Black ink or paint with white highlights applied with brushes on a colored background mimics the traditional carving techniques while in dialogue with the antique frames selected by the artist, an approach that reveals the artist's fascination with the possibilities deriving from his source images. The sculptural work churns with life as Brown incorporates existing bronze and spelter figurines with the application of thick chunks and layers of oil paint. Provoking an intriguing dialogue about tradition and modernity, these works suggest the constant, uncompromising evolution of art and genres, blurring the lines between drawing, painting and sculpture, blurring the lines of time —Sasha Bogojev