Cecily Brown’s pictures from the studio, of the studio even, make her full repertoire. This is what happens (and remains) behind closed doors. The works can hang on her studio walls for years, as inspiration, as aides-memoir or just old friends. Always in the corner of her eyes, sometimes reflecting from a judiciously or randomly placed mirror, they are neither studies nor afterthoughts, but forever present.
Brown’s entire gamut and palette are on display: her older small paintings are like old tunes echoing and supporting the new album, as the majority of the pictures in the show were realised in the last two years. There are landscapes, interiors, hunting and battles scenes, swings and bowers, Baroquemélées and Rococo fantasies, Shipwrecks and Assemblies–a palimpsest of art historical references which becomes Brown’s own iconography. It is as if the whole of French painting history was playing in front of our eyes: Poussin, Watteau, Fragonard, David, Delacroix, Manet, Boudin, Degas and Bonnard… The latter is a particular favourite of Brown’s, in the ways he treats his female models with such empathy
Following a visit to the major Walter Sickert retrospective at the Tate Britain this year, Brown depicts a reclining female nude on a bed as an homage to a suite of faux-louche paintings Sickert realised in Paris in the summer of1906, themselves very much reminiscent of Degas and Bonnard
Through these iterations and transformations, the same respectful (and gentle) act of looking, or as Brown-the-female-artist puts it, a painting in which you are the model’, traverses time and space and perhaps becomes the central allegory of the show.
Cecily Brown, Studio Pictures –17th December 2022, Thomas Dane Gallery.