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Gagosian New York presents Glenn Brown: We’ll Keep On Dancing Till We Pay the Rent

November 8–December 23, 2022

We’ll Keep Dancing Till We Pay the Rent, an exhibition of brand-new Glenn Brown paintings, sculptures, and drawings, is on view at Gagosian.

Brown produces pictures and forms where disparate allusions clash and playfully cohabit using a comprehensive understanding of art history, literature, music, and popular culture. He changes the past images of old master drawings into something rich and unusual by utilizing their enduring charm and historical significance. A large-scale still life with ripened quinces, double portraits, and twisted figures are among the new paintings on display in New York. These works are given an ethereal liveliness by the artist’s meticulous mark-making, which results in delicate loops and swirls of paint that seem to glide and float across the canvases’ surfaces.

Brown spent time just focusing on drawing after his 2014 New York exhibition, referring to it as “the backbone that binds the composition of any painting together.” Each painting in this exhibition is based on an appropriated drawing, with the technique serving as his point of departure. The work still draws inspiration from art history and has Brown’s signature surrealist-symbolist aesthetic, but his markings and colors have grown larger and more fantastical, making each representation more intensely visual and full of accelerated motion.

In Bikini (2022), a female and a male face are combined, Januslike, yet tug painfully in opposite directions, woven together by undulating colored strands. The painting takes its title from Bikini Atoll, a coral reef in the Marshall Islands that was the site of multiple US nuclear tests, while the composition refers to drawings by Pompeo Batoni (1708–1787) and Andrea del Sarto (1486–1530). The title of Im Gestein (2019–21)—in English, “in the rocks”—refers to a section of György Ligeti’s Lux Aeterna, a musical composition forever linked to Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001 (1968). Here Brown takes as his sources studies by Jan Willem Pieneman (1779–1853) and Jan Van Noordt (1623/4–after 1676). In We’ll Keep On Dancing Till We Pay the Rent (2022)—the title was imagined by Brown but recalls Sydney Pollack’s 1969 film of They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?—two faces conjoined by one ear are balanced precariously on a tiny neck, while a curious hand and pointing finger drift up from a smoky, barren, dreamlike background.

The exhibition includes two new sculptures in addition to paintings and drawings, both of which are reminiscent of Willem de Kooning’s monochromatic bronzes and Frank Auerbach’s distinctive brushstrokes. A slouched and sad figure with no arms and one leg is propped up on a pedestal in Soused (2022), an arrangement that takes inspiration from the elongated figures of Alina Szapocznikow (1926-1973) and Alberto Giacometti. The title Soused implies “drunk” or “drenched.” Brown revisits his earlier paintings, like Seventeen Seconds (2005), and sculptures, like Died in the Wool (2020), in Hey Nonny Nonny/The Busker’s Empty Cap (2022), achieving the same peculiar complexity and sharing its subtly sinister atmosphere, which he has characterized as “like having a thief in the room.”

A fully illustrated catalogue featuring an interview between the artist and curator Massimiliano Gioni will be available to accompany the event.

An assortment of Brown’s paintings, drawings, and sculptures, from early copies of Frank Auerbach and Jean-Honoré Fragonard to more recent layered portraits modeled after Renaissance old masters, are on display in the artist’s inaugural exhibition at the newly opened Brown Collection in London, which also houses the artist’s art collection and has three floors of exhibition space. The Collection will be accessible from Tuesday, October 11, to Sunday, October 16, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. throughout Frieze week.

From February 23 to June 24, 2023, the Sprengel Museum Hannover and the Landesmuseum Hannover in Germany will host Brown’s two-venue retrospective The Real Thing.

Gagosian New York

541 West 24th Street
New York, ny 10011

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