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“I’ve always wondered, like, what is so masculine about abstraction? Cecily Brown

# The truth is that women have never been treated equally in the art world. Even today, with the demise of gender bias seen in most industries, female artists remain dramatically underrepresented and undervalued. Most women find it difficult to sell their work and gain recognition, but renowned artist Cecily Brown has shattered the archaic barriers of this creative industry and found her way to the top of the male-dominated market.

# The artists like Francis Bacon who overtly sexualised depiction of women had largely dominated the genre of the grotesque in painting. Cecily Brown was one of the painters who tried the expansion of the genre to encompass the work of female painters. Her dipictions of frank sexual subjects are visulalised in the way that heavily applied paint and varnished canvas - it seems unsettling and visceral. The subject matter of Brown's work is typically intended to disturb the viewer's eye. Sexuality that she rendered seems grotesque because of the rich application of oil colour becomes repugnant. (theartstory)

# Brown is thought to be a successful female painter who built her own career and subvert the machismo of male Abstract Expressionist. She regards her entire art-making process as feminist- "I don't drive. I don't cook. I can't do lots of things, and I am really proud of that. Painting is what I can do" (artstory)

Puce Moment (1997)

Though the nude body still features prominently in Brown’s work, her paintings became less explicitly sexual over the years, relying on a more latent eroticism in place of overt depictions of sexual activity. Paintings such as Jicky(2009–10) andHandsome Stranger(2010) are up against the edge of abstraction, anchored by flashes of a defined limb woven among loose, swooping ribbons of paint.

# As a young female painter, Cecily Brown freely painted subjects not often dealt by male painters, including sex and love, death and violence. Her earlier works drew directly from pornographic source materials, and the overtly sexual scenes were filled with subjects like rabbit genitalia, skulls, and penis with wings. Her later works eschew overt figuration in favor of more abstracted, non-depictive paintings that fragmentize and deconstruct the subjects. The eroticism is more covert, and hidden under her kaleidoscopic brush strokes are sexual innuendos, portraying an idea of engaged figures in motion. As a result, her canvases portray elusiveness and anxiety, playing within the subtle boundary of abstraction and figuration as Brown breaks down the subjects into fragments using her energetic brushstrokes. (kukje)

# Early in her career, Brown experimented with different media types, but she is most famously known for her role in the rebirth of painting and her ongoing theme of underlying eroticism.

Coulple (2003 - 2004)

Seven Brothers for Seven Brides (1997 - 1998)

Black Painting 1 , 2002

This piece is part of a series of works Brown titled the Black Painting Series, which she named after Francisco Goya's series of the same name. Her series focuses on sex and death, and this particular piece contemplates the connection between the two. In the picture, a night scene, a lone male figure in repose is being tortured by evil spirits. The man is painted in whites and grays, which make him appear ghostly. The smudged body seems to be disappearing as we look on as though the spirits are pulling him into the dark abyss. At the same time, his arched back though and open, exclaiming mouth suggest that he may be in a state of orgasm. The flashes of white overhead are either emanating from the man's body or are closing in on him. The pleasure and torment are obvious and conflicting.

This painting as well as the series itself demonstrates once more Brown's obsession with the work of the Old Masters, whom she references with a frequency suggesting that such paintings are less homages than updates. Specifically, this picture calls to mind Goya's etching,The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters(1799) (not a work from theBlack Paintingsseries, however) as well as Henry Fuseli'sThe Nightmare(1782) and William Blake'sJerusalem(1820). Like Goya's works from theBlack Paintingsseries, Brown explores dark, disturbing themes using a palette that is unmistakably anxiety inducing in itself.


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