Deborah Brown: Careful What You Wish For – The Sexual Tension is Palpable

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Now at the Jason Vass Gallery, Deborah Brown’s Careful What You Wish For is a sensual experience that’s both tactile and emotionally connective.

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Above, “Our Little Secret.”

Gallerist Vass says of Brown “She was someone I’ve admired for a long time. I knew I would be showing her when I first opened. I knew she would be an artist that I would have here.”

As a side note, due to the demolition of the 6th Street Bridge, the Jason Vass Gallery recently reopened – this is just the show to get crowds to see that 6th Street, up to the river, is driveable again.

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Above, “My Man”

“I’ve always been interested in identity,”  the artist says. “I used to work with things concerning culture, plastic, the facade, the veneer of things.”

Today she goes deeper, taking viewers straight to the skin.

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“I finally gave myself permission to explore my body as a battle ground in a way, an attraction and a repulsive quality,” Brown attests.

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Above, left, “Bat Out of Heaven,” right, “You Might Get Burned”

“The work embraced sexuality. It is about female desire and the struggle…how I reconcile my desire, am I okay with that, is a woman attractive if she is sexually powerful,” Brown explains.

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“The stereotype for women is being submissive,” Brown muses.

There is nothing submissive here. This is bold, seductive work that is as powerful in the materials chosen, the forms, the rigorous intent, as it is in subject matter. Above, “Do I Fulfill Your Expectations.”

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Below, the artist and her work.

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“It’s playful and it’s painful, too,” she says of the exhibition. “It’s not just trying to be clever. There’s a sadness. It glorifies and it breaks down at the same time.”

UK-based but American born, Brown’s work is universal, not so much of a specific location, but bred of an intense desire to create images that excite intellectually, spiritually, and physically.

Gone is the idea of a patriarchal sexuality. In it’s place is a female appropriation of male-driven images that through that appropriation changes the meaning of these forms.

This exhibition is Brown’s first stateside since 1996, and follows her recent inclusion in an exhibition at the Royal Academy in London.

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Above, “I Only Wanted a Little”

While there are photographs in the show, including her oldest work in this subject area, a sensual and frightening image of a beautifully naked woman with bees as her garment,  Brown is first and foremost a sculptor. “I was always a sculptor. The photography started with the the bees piece, and it has become more important because I can do things with it as a medium that I can’t do with sculpture.”

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Above,  “Where Do We Go from Here?”

“Anything is game for me at this point. If it’s going to say what I meant it to say, I feel like that is what is consistent, not the medium that I use.”

Brown’s expression thematically, is, in short, powerful enough to carry a wide range of mediums.

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“It isn’t the material which is important,” Brown stresses. “Not whether or not it is polymer, clay, wood, a photograph, resin, leather, or aluminum. I work in all of those.”

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Above: “Bat Out of Heaven,” below, “Wanna Ride?”

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Regardless of the medium Brown employs there is a palpable, excuse the phrasing, even throbbing, sensuality to her work here. You can touch it, sense it, visualize it. Viewers will long to caress, to absorb, to get the same type of sensation one gets from static electricity simply by studying this work.

“I’m tapping into a raw place. It is not political work. It’s deeply personal. That’s where I believe the energy came from, from that experience, that personal experience.”

This is work that is kinetic, absorbing, magnetic, and above all stimulating. It turns on the mind more than the body. And that’s just the way Brown likes it.

The Jason Vass Gallery is located at 1452 E 6th St, Los Angeles. Brown will be exhibiting into December.

  • Genie Davis; Photos: Jack Burke

 

No Bridge Too Far: Jason Vass Gallery

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“Before the Bridge” at the Jason Vass Gallery succinctly and beautifully sums up images of change – perfect for the gallery’s location in the shadow of the soon-to-be-no-more 6th Street Bridge.  This is only the third exhibition at the gallery space, which opened January 30th, but it’s not to be missed.

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Featuring the work of six artists, Deborah Brown, Dan Callis, Mark Dutcher, Cynthia MacAdams, Douglas Tausik and Gene Vass, paintings, sculpture, and mixed media are the mediums for some dazzling art works about transition.

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Above, Douglas Tausik with the two creations his wife’s pregnancy inspired.

Douglas Tausik’s “Venus” is the artist’s tribute to his wife’s pregnancy. “I changed my approach to the work in this piece,” Tausik says. “While the idea of traditional sculpture being exhausted is premature, this piece came out a little differently, a personal narrative, thought and emotion united,” he says. The flowing curves of this piece seduces, the feeling of birth is present in every soft line, even had we not heard the story of the work’s inspiration.

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Dan Callis say his multi-layered paintings reflect light beneath darkness. “I wanted to build up these very dense layers to create intentional space, then subvert it, and build it again. That may be emblematic of my own aging,” he laughs. “I want my paintings to be beautiful but not in a traditional way, rather in a way that comes out of going down some difficult roads.” Delicate and translucent colors create a translucent effect; there’s a sense of reflection, light, water, glass in each of his pieces that pull viewers in as if floating in a wave of color.

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Mark Dutcher’s abstract paintings include stark but sensuous lines weaving through flows of color.  His “I am Hart Crane,” is blue with black graphite lines. It could be a river or a highway, something that courses on, as mutable as time.

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Deborah Brown’s “I Thought I Could Handle It” is hilarious, sexual, and simply captivating, an interweaving of female legs and bodies with a mushroom head with which Freud would have a field day. This too is a piece about transformation, as desire, as feminism, as identity. Both surreal and whimsical, her work dovetails nicely with photographer Cynthia Macadams, who presents iconic photographs of men and women that delve beneath the surface of the skin. Also beneath the surface: the swimmingly dark monolithic forms of Gene Vass that offer fine cracks of light breaking through these seemingly immovable shapes.

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Yes, it’s all about change. Check out this exhibit which will change after June 12th.  The gallery is located 1452 E. Sixth Street in DTLA.

  • Genie Davis; All Photos: Jack Burke