Cicely Brown evolves with every new showing of her paintings - and that is a positive statement and not a criticism. Her means of spreading paint in the most luxurious manner continues, but now the stories or messages or recognizable imagery for which she was so highly regarded become less obvious in this collection of works. It is as though now that she has informed her audience of her ability to make intensely sensual and erotic images she is able to transmit that energy into more abstract terms. Yes, the fragments of recognizable forms remain (or is that we just want to imagine them being there?) but now her paintings seem more a celebration or expansion of ideas by great artists left unfinished by their demise.
Klaus Kertess is the writer and curator for this book (an exhibition by Gagosian Gallery in Rome in 2011) and his take on the current status of Brown's intentions is invigorating to read. `Presenting a world that pulses with excesses and appetites, Brown explores the breadth of human experience in tactile oil paintings. Broadly inspired by the history of painting--from Rubens and Veronese to the muscular expressionism of Willem de Kooning--Brown's personal vision transcends classical notions of genre and narrative, freeing subject matter from its original context and positioning it within a new aesthetic reality. Submerged within vigorous gestural abstractions are scenes in which tangles of flesh dissolve into sensuous textures. In the dense scenario of The Green, Green Grass of Home (2010) flickering figures are enfolded in vivid landscapes of lilac, charcoal, and burnt orange. In The Haunter (2010) a yawning orifice opens up in a sea of deliquescent color that is smeared and wiped across the support. In Handsome Stranger (2010) and Wake, Awake for Night is Flying (2010) anatomical silhouettes--the ball of a foot, the crook of an elbow--can just be made out. Eschewing fixed meaning, Brown's paintings reflect the flux of life through fragmentary glimpses of form.'
Once again we are enchanted by the virtuosity of this gifted painter: watching her progress is a thrilling venture. Grady Harp, July 12