Deborah Brown: THIS DREAM AND OTHER ANIMALS
5 February - 20 April, 2019
Reception: 7 February, 6 - 8 PM
Burning in Water is pleased to present an exhibition of new paintings by the Brooklyn-based artist Deborah Brown: This dream and other animals. Extending across both of our gallery locations at 505 West 27th Street and 317 10th Avenue, This dream and other animals is Brown’s first exhibition with the gallery.
The focus of the paintings in This dream and other animals is a lone female figure rendered in a range of settings, who alternately appears in varying affective states: aggressive, threatened, forlorn, physically daring. Her environment is a curious amalgamation in which particular elements are foregrounded - a still pool, a vertiginous rock face, an expansive beach - while other details are shorn away in favor of an enveloping, enigmatic darkness.
In each scene, Brown depicts her protagonist as nude but incorporates details - particular poses, settings or accoutrements - that invoke references to classical mythology, biblical tales, apologues or canonical scenes from the history of art. The central figure adopts and sheds various implied roles without ever fully inhabiting them. Narratives are suggested yet never explicated - with elusive meanings yielding to an intimation of the archetypal. The figure cycles through a series of possible identities: perhaps a deity, a sprite, a warrior or an outcast.
Taken from the poem Sister was the wolf by Aracelis Girmay, the title of the exhibition suggests a milieu in which external, natural settings and the inner topography of the psyche are commingled or possibly enmeshed. In this context, the protagonist intermittently takes on various classical personae such as the shield-maiden or valkyrie Brünnhilde; Judith from the Book of Judith; or the Greek goddess Artemis. With her polyvalent identities, the protagonist is perhaps most akin to the protean character Artemis, who in early Greek mythology was a “lover of woods and wild chase over the mountain” and served as “the protectress of dewy youth,” but whose identity later split into a trinity including Hecate, the “Goddess of the Dark of the Moon.” Hecate’s nocturnal dominion over over the earth was dependent on the blackness of moonless nights. She was “Goddess of the world above,” but only when it was completely “wrapped in darkness.”
Deborah Brown (b. 1955, California) lives in New York and works in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Brown was the founder of Storefront, one of the first artist-run galleries in Bushwick. Recent exhibition venues include Burning in Water, New York; The Lodge, Los Angeles; Freight + Volume, New York; Underdonk, Brooklyn; Spoonbill Studio, Brooklyn; Castor Gallery, New York; GEARY Contemporary, New York; Lesley Heller Gallery, New York; Mike Weiss Gallery, New York; BravinLee programs, New York; Galleri Christoffer Egelund, Copenhagen; and Angell Gallery, Toronto. Her work is held in numerous museum and corporate collections and has been written about in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Artforum, Art in America, The Wall Street Journal, ARTnews, Artnet News, Madame Figaro, Hyperallergic and ART-Das Kuntsmagazin. Brown has served as a visiting artist and lecturer at Penn State University, Hunter College, Pace University, Columbia University, Maryland Institute College of Art and Art Omi. Brown earned a BA from Yale University and an MFA from Indiana University.