san-francisco

Joan Brown

Mills College Art Gallery

This extensive survey of work produced between 1977 and 1982 demonstrates that Joan Brown’s familiar themes of autobiography and travel have merged into images more directly suggestive of a psychic quest. Columnar sculpture and paintings on canvas, wood, or paper narrate the two essential directions of Brown’s strivings. One is evolutionally downward: in her pervasive self-portraits she sometimes cradles or is partially transfigured into a cat, sometimes interacts with a hybrid cat/priest, suggesting a desire to assimilate primal feline intuitions and agility. The other impulse is upward, toward a higher consciousness, frequently represented here by Egyptian and Indian occult symbols.

Thus, in the subject matter of her work, Brown aims to promote an attitude of receptivity to the “other side, to animalistic nature and the supernatural. Paradoxically, however, her manner of rendering her

Sign-in to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the December 1983 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.