Cecily Brown’s paintings are a lush, energetic mix of figuration and abstraction, her work a step beyond abstract expressionism, the canvases chaotic and filled with riotous and vivid colours applied in thick gestural swathes that give her figures a sensuality that recalls the work of everyone from the great Baroque artists of the 17th Century such as Poussin and Rubens to the great abstract expressionists of the 20th Century.
It isn’t surprising that Brown’s paintings are seeped in art history as her family have been at the cutting edge of contemporary art since the 1950’s. Her father, David Sylvester, was one of Britain’s foremost art critics and was an early champion of Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon, Richard Hamilton and the other ‘Young Turks’ of British Pop art.
Brown has turned this legacy on its head, taking her deep knowledge of figurative art, absorbing it’s male-centric approach and giving it a female perspective. Her sexually charged pictures are a testament to both art history and contemporary feminism, they give us a deeper understanding of the role of the figure in painting history.
These pictures need time. They are playful, complex and rich in art history and if you happen to be in New York between now and 22nd June check out her new show at The Gagosian Gallery, 980 Madison Avenue, New York