new-york

Cecily Brown

Gagosian Gallery

I sense a backlash building after Cecily Brown’s numerous recent appearances in the popular press as an avatar of a sort of painting that is stylistically familiar yet modishly edgy in subject. What’s unfortunate is that she’s been taken up in this manner just as her paintings have been getting more difficult. The eye-catching pornographic imagery on view in her 1998 show at Deitch Projects has receded. In four of the eight works here I don’t see it at all—it’s either banished or buried so deeply that it might as well not be there. So the paintings lack the hook they used to have, but most of them are the better for it. Even to the extent that we can make out the depicted bodies, what we see raises more questions than it answers, and gives us reason to keep looking. In Tender is the Night, 1999, I see the big figure facing right on hands and knees, but is there another body in the picture

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