Debbie’s work dialogues with the rich tradition of figurative narrative painting and contains careful consideration of the difference between using the female form as a reflective autobiographical devices versus one that is more simply voyeuristic and possibly cringe-worthy by nature of the demonstrous “male gaze.” In one of Debbie’s recent Instagram posts, she commented: #womencanpaintnudestoo.
As contemporary painters we have the opportunity to step out of time and dialogue with the extended history of painted crafts and enter the current conversation surrounding identity politics and representation. Through many avenues Debbie’s work connects both. She actively transforms the classic motif of the female nude figure from a voyeuristic portrayal of vulnerability to a sensitive narrative of independence.
It takes a strong voice to steer the course of visual commitment and navigate historical inspirations of painting. Debbie achieves this, while balancing the line between representational painting and the magic expressive quality of the paint itself.
Riotous storms of thrashing color formed into woodland scenes are the hallmark of Brooklyn-based artist Deborah Brown’s paintings… These arcadian settings are not gently rendered, however. Brown’s palette-knife facture is anxious and harsh, rife with thick daubs and slashes. Such frenetic energy is more akin to the tumult of city life. These works suggest a peaceful emancipation, something for which many enervated New Yorkers secretly ache, but perhaps cannot voice it for fear of being perceived as lacking resolve, or worse, betraying treasonous disloyalty to the city’s often suffocating embrace.
…Deborah Brown’s images of nude women traipsing through nature have a mythical nymph-like insouciance.
It’s difficult for paintings of female nudes in bucolic landscapes to transcend historic tropes of voyeuristic escapism, but Deborah Brown succeeds in positing hers as self-reflective meditations on contemporary femininity.
'“I consider myself to be a feminist. Unlike many artists in my young circle in Bushwick, I am old enough to remember the ‘70s when the women’s movement was just gaining strength, creating community and dismantling the status quo. I have been in the New York art world since the early ‘80s, but things really began to look up for me professionally when I saw myself as an agent of change in my own community in Brooklyn, making opportunities for artists in general and for women artists in particular. The feminist movement has inspired me to take an activist position in my own community to program what I want to see in my artist-run gallery space, Storefront Ten Eyck, outside the commercial art world of Manhattan. This engagement with others has helped me to grow as an artist and as a person, and it’s had the added bonus of raising my profile professionally. I now see myself connected to a broader agenda. Feminism — with its foundation of egalitarianism, non-hierarchical structure, and transparent dialogue — has been, in part, my inspiration. Working together on an equal basis floats all boats, and there is no greater proof of that than the artist-run scene in Bushwick.”
The artist, local organizer and director of Storefront Ten Eyck has been radiating her creative energies in a number of ways that have responded to, benefitted and benefitted from the bubbling art community in Bushwick.
Deborah Brown’s name has become synonymous with the Brooklyn art scene, thanks to her work at the helm of the gallery Storefront Ten Eyck.
”Paint was made to depict the figure! It’s a great equivalent for flesh. It’s taken me years, but I feel I know how to manipulate the physical aspect of the material to get what I want. Some of this involves a suspension of control by the mind and its editing process. My hand and eye respond to the physical process of mark-making and color application. Things happen when I am working that I could not predict. I nudge the elements in a certain direction and then let incident and accident occur. Being surprised is an essential part of the process.”
- Paintings by Deborah Brown are currently on view in ”Human Nature/Nature Human: Deborah Brown and Mark Barry” at The Bundy Modern in Waitsfield, VT. The exhibition juxtaposes Brown’s painterly, suspenseful images of women and dogs with Barry’s faux-naïve, flat, colorful paintings of similar subject matter. The exhibition is on view through October 13, 2019.
-Paintings by Deborah Brown are included in the group exhibition In the Summertime at Danese/Corey, on view through August 16, 2019.
-Four paintings by Deborah Brown were included in Certain Women at Nancy Littlejohn Fine Art in Houston, TX. The exhibition also featured artworks by Judith Linhares, Petah Coyne, Claire Sherman, Clare Grill, Vera Iliatova, Dana Frankfort, Heidi Hahn, Jackie Gendel, and Angela Dufresne. Certain Women ran from June 14 to July 27, 2019.
-Union Hall, a new arts programming space in downtown Denver, CO that will feature art exhibitions, dance performances, and film screenings, will exhibit paintings by Deborah Brown in an upcoming solo show curated by Arielle Myers.
-The Painting Center in New York included a work by Deborah Brown in About Face: Portraits in Clay and Paint, a group presentation of contemporary portraiture in the digital age. June 18 - July 13, 2019.
Deborah Brown (b. 1955, Pasadena, CA) lives in New York and works in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Brown was the founder of Storefront, one of the first artist-run galleries in Bushwick. Brown earned a BA from Yale University and an MFA from Indiana University. She 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.
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.
Brown’s 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.