Cecily Brown is painting more porn and that’s a good thing. In 2002, she presented a number of reasonable, but uninspiring landscapes uptown, though by the time 2006 rolled around, admittedly she seemed to be getting a little better with the subject matter. (Unfortunately Cecily Brown: New Paintings was held in London, so my evaluation of the later work is suspect since it’s entirely based on jpgs.)
Preamble aside, the new work, while inconsistent maintains the powerful paint as cum metaphor she became so well known for in the late 90’s. Even when the paintings aren’t fully resolved I find myself letting it go: if sex isn’t perfect, why should these pieces perform any differently? Her small to mid sized paintings are considerably less successful than the larger works. The more abstract landscapey the work becomes — and all the small paintings are like this — the more confined it feels. There are also far too many of these works hung in the show. Untitled 92, and Untitled 84 appear reasonably successful on the Gagosian website for example, but are virtually indistinguishable from one another in the exhibition. Needless to say, it wasn’t a good idea to run ten of those paintings in a row.
Generally speaking, Brown’s most successful recent works are those with a few areas of broader brushwork. New Face In Hell in particular provides a much needed resting place for the eye after so many busy surfaces. Unfortunately for gallery goers, if you missed her show at Gagosian this Saturday, you’ll not get to see it. It closed that day.