Glenn Brown, Jesus, The Living Dead (after Adolf Schaller), 1997-98, © Glenn Brown.
Glenn Brown, The Loves of Shepherds (after ‘Doublestar’ by Tony Roberts), 2000, © Glenn Brown.
Glenn Brown, The Tragic Conversion of Salvador Dali (after John Martin), 1998, © Glenn Brown.
February 20-May 10, 2009
Tate Liverpool and the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin have organised a major retrospective of the work of Glenn Brown.
One of the most revered painters of his generation, this exhibition will bring together the largest selection of the artist’s work to date. Brown borrows from art history and popular culture, working from the images of Dalí, Auerbach, Rembrandt, science fiction illustrators and many others to investigate the languages of painting and how images are read by the viewer. Brown is fascinated by how reproductions of paintings distort the qualities of their originals. Size, colour, surface texture and brushwork are elements by which original works are transformed from the familiar into the alien. Working from books or projecting reproductions onto a blank picture surface, Brown wildly embellishes his source material. Naturalistic colour becomes putrid or kitsch, figures are elongated or enlarged into the grotesque and heavy impasto, although painstakingly copied, is rendered entirely flat.
The exhibition, which includes over 60 paintings, sculpture and several new works, will be arranged to reveal the artist’s diverse painterly strategies and preoccupations. Rooms will be dedicated to the artist’s obsessive and meticulous copying of brushwork with works including You never touch my skin in the way you did, and you’ve even changed the way you kiss me (1994) and Telstar (1995). His relentless appropriation of Auerbach, returning to the same work again and again in order to transform the head of a figure is realised in works such as Kill the Poor (2000) and The Real Thing (2000). Further rooms will reflect Brown’s playful use of kitsch and the sublime, through which the artist radically displaces familiar works by Dalí, Fragonard and John Martin. Brown’s perceptive processes will also be explored. Often placing formal and aesthetic concerns over original subject matter and meaning, details from well known-works are isolated, manipulated, becoming subject matters in themselves.
Brown deftly mixes fine art and popular culture to create paintings and sculptures of baffling complexity. His lengthy process of working from reproductions reflects how often we experience art at second-hand, though photographs. He adds further twists by choosing reproductions that aren't always faithful to the original in colour or tone, and then cropping or otherwise manipulating the images. "I re-enliven it into something completely different. Something that makes personal allusions to my own life."
Glenn Brown was born in Hexam in 1966. From 1984 to 1992 he studied at Norwich School of Art, the Bath College of Higher Education and then trained at Goldsmith’s College. He was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 2000.