new-york

James Brown

Leo Castelli

Reticent yet intensely seductive, the art of James Brown is poised between roughness and refinement, violence and grace. His recent works range from large, tonally subtle mixed-media pieces on stretched canvas, to pencil drawings on sheets of linen folded into rectangles, and brush-drawings on linen in luminous, transparent color. Their status as beautiful art objects is subverted by their formal modesty and their oblique invocation of ritual, which is reminiscent of the totemic motifs woven throughout his work of the ’80s.

Brown’s occasional use of unstretched linen as a substitute for stretched canvas implies a planned lack of resolution, while two of the folded-linen pieces reflect a taste for austerity, the rectangles formed by the folds filled with delicate, rudimentary sketches in which any imagery that may exist is barely legible. The drawings in 24 Drawings from a Treasure Room,

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