Glenn Brown: ‘Drawing 1 (after Bloemaert)’ , 2018
The Brown Collection, 1 Bentinck Mews, London W1U 2AF https://glenn-brown.co.uk/exhibitions/172/
The artist Glenn Brown has opened a free-to-visit gallery-come-museum over a sleekly impressive four floors of a purpose-adapted house in Marylebone. It’s just a short walk from the Wallace Collection, which Brown has found an especially inspirational source of his appropriation and reimagining of other artists’ images. The initial hang is of 30-odd paintings, sculptures and drawings he has kept from across his career. Brown’s reasoning is that – like any artists – he likes people to see his work, but his commercial galleries can only show him so often, and this provides more such opportunities than gifting work to institutions which would probably keep it in storage much of the time. Consistent with that strategy, Brown has an unusually well-maintained, comprehensive and informative website. Moreover, he plans to show his work alongside other artists from his private collection, such as Abraham Bloemaert. Brown says the Dutch Mannerist (1566 –1651) ‘could draw Rembrandt out of the room’, especially when tackling trees. It’s appropriate, then, that one of the highlights of the initial hang is ‘Drawing 1 (after Bloemaert)’, which shows Brown’s unique way of drawing in India ink and acrylic paint on both side of film, then mounting the transparent ground on a coloured surface. The black ink is mostly applied to the ‘back’, and all the white paint to the ‘front’, generating a lively interplay from up close. This is also one of a series which start from a found frame – here 17th century Genoese with scrolling leaves – and carries its language into the drawing. ‘I wanted to animate the tree’, says Brown, ‘to give it a sense of movement and personality. The highly contrasting black and white lines dance around each other, resisting a fixed image’.
London’s gallery scene is varied, from small artist-run spaces to major institutions and everything in between. Each week, art writer and curator Paul Carey-Kent gives a personal view of a space worth visiting.