Reappropriation. The Treccani encyclopedia defines reappropriation the process with which we reacquire the availability of something that we have lost. Therefore, a concept that presupposes the will to recover something that has been lost for any reason, it is not important for what reason we have lost something but that we want to recover it. A concept that is very widespread in the contemporary world.
For the environmental movement, for example, to improve the quality of our life, to make it more sustainable society we must regain possession of nature, we must reconstruct the fracture created between culture and nature, between cultural and natural, between what is created by man and what is not. We need to recover an interrupted dialogue that over time has turned into a monologue of the man who considers himself presumptuously superior, devoid of rivals worthy of his knowledge, of his history.
The concept of reappropriation is widespread also in politics where it means reappropriation of common spaces. Are you sure you have never heard of "participation"? It is impossible, because it is one of the most widespread words of the contemporary society and indicates the return of the individual to the ability of getting involved in politics by ceasing to delegate without power of control to others. Let's think, for example, about the return of many populist parties in the last decades.
This process is also present in the art world and one of its greatest exponents is Glenn Brown, who recently showed his artworks in an extraordinary exhibition at Gagosian Gallery in London. Mining an extensive knowledge of art history, as well as of literature, music, and popular culture, Brown creates complex and sensuous works of art that are noticeable of our time, so when we visit one of his shows or we find ourselves in front of one of his works as well as enjoying the unique and inimitable sign that characterizes his artistic practice we cannot reflect about the references of his works.
In fact, Brown reappropriates images from the history of art and with the help of new technologies he distorts, modifies, destroys them and creates new ones. The French philosopher Derrida teaches us that deconstructing means breaking the classical structure of something consolidated by adding and subtracting, that is, exasperating or stripping down some of the load-bearing characteristics, and this is somewhat the characteristic of Brown's practice.
The "Come to Dust" exhibition, the title which takes from a song in Shakespeare's play Cymbeline, reflects on the inevitability of death. There are oil paintings, drawings, grisaille panel works, etchings, and sculptures attesting the extraordinary virtuosity of Brown: the paintings give the illusion of full, material volumes but on closer examination those surfaces are smooth and flat. Particularly the room where drawings have been set some mounted in elaborate Renaissance gilt and carved wooden frames. Particular is not only the preparation of these drawings but, also here, the process by which they were created. In fact, Brown reverses the usual order that leads to the creation of a specific frame on the basis of the work to be framed. Here the frames are treated as ready-made and the drawings are created in response to the colour, size and design of the frames.
In "Come to Dust" there is all the best of Glenn Brown's artistic practice. The beautiful and the ugly, the charming and the repugnant. Brown tells the journey of some works he has chosen in the history of art, up to the present day. Works transformed by time and our memory, light works like memories or dreams, heavy and obscure as nightmares. Brown invites us to reappropriate our history, our culture, which frightens us but at the same time fascinates us, and gives them new life, a new vital breath that vivifies and regenerates.