Glenn Brown

Unknown Pleasure

30 JULY 2017,
Works of Glenn Brown. Ph Simona Fossi / MUS.E
Works of Glenn Brown. Ph Simona Fossi / MUS.E

The city of Florence confirms once again the leading position acquired by the city in promoting and valorizing the contemporary artistic language as well as the role to stimulate a dialogue between the past, the present and the future. This time they have involved one of the best painters in the world, probably the most talented and original: Glenn Brown.

The British artist exhibits his artworks (about 30 pieces including paintings, drawings and sculptures, some of which are on display for the very first time) at the Bardini Museum in a suggestive dialogue with the famous collection of Stefano Bardini, a famous antiquarian and eclectic art collector of the 19th and early 20th centuries. The Bardini collection includes several masterpieces of medieval and Renaissance art including the Charity by Tino da Camaino and the Madonna dei Cordai by Donatello, the Crucifix by Bernardo Daddi, St. Michael the Archangel by Pollaiolo, Atlas by Guercino as well as an extraordinary series of drawings by Tiepolo and Piazzetta.

In this context, Brown's artworks are not out of place, they are indeed an integral part of the collection because Brown's artistic practice has nothing to envy with the great Renaissance masters. Recapturing images of the classic repertoire, in fact, Glenn Brown uses his virtuosity to give life to those images, to such a repertoire so familiar but at the same time so distant over time. Those meticulous brushstrokes almost seem to corrode the canvas and the pictures they refer to, fully expressing those strongly contemporary tendencies to break boundaries, canons, and limits.

We live in a magma situation / condition that we still do not know which shape it will take in the short as well as in the long run. This same condition is present in Glenn Brown's works. Works that are both beautiful and grotesque, amusing and scary, rational and irrational. A coexistence of opposites where the opposites neither attract nor repel. They conquer in an harmonious, original, innovative way by innovating our approach to the past, the present, and the future. Francesco Bonami, few years ago, talked about Glenn Brown as a plastic surgeon of painting because with his painting he is able to give new lymph the masterpieces that are old and for this reason need a "lifting". Lifting, however, is not to be considered a mere "restoration" because otherwise we will find in front of us a great technician and not an artist.

Brown instead as a modern Dionysus brings with him the joy of spring revival, the vigorous summer overflow, the darkness and the silence of winter days. As the platonic demiurge plagiarizes and enlivens the pre-existing nature by giving it new form, sometimes we perceive the soul as well. Maurits Escher said: "He who wonders discovers that this in itself is wonder" and perhaps these are the two main elements of this exhibition: tickle our curiosity to go beyond ordinariness, to nourish our sense of wonder to go beyond the limits of the possible, the known, the existent. One more stimulus to ignite that spark capable of generating in us wonder, that wonder which is the basis of philosophy and knowledge, and which is the only capable of revolutionizing the existing one.