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James Brown

James HD Brown, Paris Studio, 2015, Photographer: François Halard
James HD Brown, Paris Studio, 2015, Photographer: François Halard
Galerie Karsten Greve Paris

May 20 -  July 29, 2017
Opening: Saturday, May 20, 6 - 8 pm
in the presence of the artist
Galerie Karsten Greve is delighted to present James HD Brown's new exhibition Oval, showcasing the artists' recent works for the first time in Europe.
Following the famous Planet Paintings series, inspired by the Planet Suite by Gustav Holst (1914-1916), James Brown began working on the series My Other House in 2012. The set of works in the present exhibition formed much of the series.
The "other house" referred to in the title of the project has no tangible existence, yet it is omnipresent. It is a space where we can write our own rules, where time stands still and objects transform into something new. It is a site of childhood and of powerful creative focus, a refuge where the mind can seek a brief respite.
James Brown has often been described as an explorer, a shaman, a scientist, even a diviner. His approach to art is both scientific and spiritual: he methodically studies each technique – painting, ceramics, engraving – until he has mastered it completely. Yet his works also reflect his urge to delve down into the deepest essence of being.
While the Planets series explored the universe and a concept of nothingness that, far from being an empty void, is constantly interfused by shifting molecules, the set of works showcased in the present exhibition draws the visitor into a space that lies both within and beyond the artist. James Brown invites us to peer through the windows of his secret house and glimpse at the perfection of space: the oval, a classic recollection, focusing the gaze, leading it into the depths beneath the painting's surface. The sky offered to the visitor's eye is now a dark layering of grey, black, and green hues.
Far from the Planet Paintings series and its delicate sandy surfaces, covered with a web of points interrupted by the presence of delicately coloured planets, the works in the Ovals series and its counterpart Orb Things are characterised by smooth, unruffled surfaces dominated by a dark palette, here and there by molecular flashes that unsettle the viewer's visual perception. As James Brown says, the oval format is surprising in that it can create an illusion of lack of balance, thereby taking the viewer into space as it expands, obviating the need for points of the compass. The skies glimpsed through these oval windows are mysterious: their empty-seeming blackness hides a space teeming with shapes and life.
Early in the 1980s, James Brown lived in New York, where he began his career with an exhibition at the Tony Shafrazi Gallery. Neo-Expressionists like Basquiat and Haring were just returning to figurative art, a movement James Browns painting has often been associated with. Yet his oeuvre has become more and more abstract, distancing itself from the representation of reality and rather devoting itself to seeking out what lies beyond. James Brown's artistic process has been described as one of "ritualised creativity", stripping shapes down further and further to achieve the essence of being; to achieve not the primitive but the truly ancient, and through it, universality.
The works shown in the present exhibition reflect this process of simplification. While the shapes are precise, they are nonetheless in a permanent state of flux, what remains is the potential for future metaphysical experiments into the nature of existence.
James HD Brown is born in Los Angeles, California, in 1951. In 1978 the Gemeentemuseum of Arnheim, in the Netherlands, held his first solo museum exhibition. Since then his work has been exhibited in important European and American museums and recently the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Oaxaca and the Museo Diego Rivera-Anahuacalli, Mexico, presented his work in important solo shows. His work is also part of many important private and public collections worldwide, among them the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, USA; the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, France; the Kolumba Museum in Cologne, Germany; the Centre for Contemporary Art of Malaga, Spain and the Museo Tamayo in Mexico City. James HD Brown lives and works in Mérida, Mexico.

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