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Cecily Brown

It is a trick of the mind's eye; what you see is not necessarily what you get. It is about looking: looking away and then looking back again. It is your personal projection, your retinal Rorschach-do you see puppy dogs or pussy?

At first glance you think it is an abstract slash, a wry smile, a slanty tit, and then you realize it is an eye, bulging out, staring. There are eyes everywhere, looking out while you are looking in, watching you, spying, stalking.


It is voyeuristic and exhibitionistic. It is self consciousness and fucking
off self consciousness, caring profoundly and then not caring at all. 
The canvases are big-high-spirited eruptions, flesh explosions. They are beautiful and vile, gorgeous and disgusting, good and evil all at once - -to see one without the other is to miss the picture entirely. 

They are in constant motion, pushing and pulling, attacking and retreating, playing a permanent peek-a-boo. Moving in and out of abstraction, they are visual puzzles, puns. Every time you look, the paint-ings are different, they fracture depending on the focus of your eye, your mental state, whether you are reading a discrete passage or taking on the entirety of the canvas. Each one is a movie, a true motion picture, build-ing up and breaking down. There are constant changes in perspective, in tempo. One image/impulse begets the next, mutating, morphing, becoming something else entirely; a knobby knee becomes a dog's head and then two people fucking. An enormous cock seems to rise and then disappear, but then maybe it wasn't a cock, maybe you are just deeply perverted and it was a vase of flowers, a woman's leg, an abstract form.

And sometimes it is about something barely there, the minimum of information, something turned inward. The canvas pushed past full color, now ashen, bleached, fainting, fading in and fading out. Cleaving, a great gap, a crevice opens, things flood in. There is the damp stain of the artist's body pressed to the canvas-in heat. And then there is dark, charcoal black, like kohl, like mascara, smeared, smudged-some strange sooty trouble.

It is everything from the inside out, a cool membrane, like acetate anatomy pages piling up, building a person, arteries and organs, the surface of the skin, the peel of an onion.

It is about layers, stratum and substratum, a fold, a flap, a fly unzipped. This is action-figure painting-a hybrid of art history and cartoon history. They are like comic book images picked up with Silly Putty, stretched, pulled into extreme and grotesque expressions, bent into unnatural positions. It is as if Marge and Homer Simpson were the models and Felix the Cat sat as their house pet. The putrid pallor of cartoon characters and animated fantasies becomes the pallet for portraits of a new century where flesh has no bounds, lust and aggression make amends and the incorpo-real mass of the body is atom smashed, etherized.

They are disruptive upchucks, undeniably echoing, hurling, the colors, the strokes, the gestures of de Kooning, Bacon, Pollock, Guston. They are not so much quoting or appropriating, as repeating, refluxing on the history of art once digested, now rising up, the riches, the flavors, fabulously familiar.

It is about being a painter, here, now, at this moment when it is okay to paint again, incredibly conscious of the past and then throw-ing it off. It is always about throwing it off, emptying oneself and beginning again. It is about skill, the ability to produce hideously beautiful passages, and then as though this beauty were unbearable, the mastery of this oily alchemy, too weighty-it is about the ability to muck it up, to hide' what ,is most revealing.

And it is about paint-wet, liquid, spreadable, mutable. It is about paint doing what bodies do during sex, pressing up, greasy, rubbing, penetrating, slipping, saturated. It is hard to know where the figures stop and start, there are extra body parts, free floating appendages, an orgy, magically real.

It is sex, pouty, unrepentant. It is always sex, ripe, wretched, writhing, unending, the inescapability of the physical, futile, on the verge of some-thing. Fucking and fucking and fucking..

It is about being a girl and painting like a boy. The male gaze repos-sessed, kidnapped: enough of how you look at us, this is how we see you.
Girls don't just get fucked, they fuck back. A ballsy display-the impulse, the scale, the influence as deeply male as painting gets, the brusqueness of the brush stroke, the authority, the urgency, the blood and guts, and cum and shit and then as girlie as it gets; the pinks and purples of My Pretty Pony, of plastic toys die cast in special colors designated girl. These queer kiddy hues oddly echo the engorged deep purple that exists in nature only between the legs and now down every aisle at Toys R Us. And then there is Boy Trouble-men hard up, with enormous hard-ons, the first cock and ball parade, a woman painting a man as brazenly, as unforgiv-ingly as men have always painted women.

It is lyrical and almost uncontrollably violent. It is contained within the boundaries and boarders of the canvas like something trapped, wiggling- a slide under a microscope.

It is cooled down under varnish, fixed behind a veneer that is almost glass, laminated to keep it at a certain distance to protect it or perhaps more to protect you.

-A.M. Homes

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