‘Painting is closest to poetry of all the arts: not being able to explain something, why does one thing sound so great next to another? You can’t put your finger on it, that’s what my work’s about.’
Sumptuous slabs of thick paint lavishly coat the surface of Cecily Brown’s Untitled. Executed in 2009, the painting is awash with colour: hues of blues, greens, yellows and lilacs blend and furl in a dreamy haze. In reflective admiration of artists such as Willem de Kooning and Joan Mitchell, Brown’s loose and brazen brushstrokes characteristically hint at some unknown, untraceable narrative that is just out of reach. ‘I think that painting is a kind of alchemy,’ she has said of her style; ‘the paint is transformed into image, and hopefully paint and image transform themselves into a third and new thing … I want to catch something in the act of becoming something else’ (C. Brown, quoted in Cecily Brown, exh. cat., Gagosian Gallery, New York 2008, p. 16). Indeed in this hallmark work, everything seems on the brink of change: the tactile imagery swells and grows, like blossoming nature caught in a wind storm, whilst flashes of fleshy skin tones are suggestive of a human presence. Suspended somewhere between the figurative and the abstract, Brown’s painting brims and bursts from the canvas as if in a state of perpetual metamorphosis.