Cecily Brown, who has long drawn on the deep as well as recent past for her imagery and techniques, continues to bring her work into the present with this show of more than eighty drawings. She appears to be more relaxed and personally expressive than ever before. Brown’s subject matter and subtle manner are seductive, as always. We sense how the artist lets herself be hypnotized by the application of ink and watercolor to her thick, absorbent paper, and we can’t help but feel the same effect. Our response is unusually visceral. It’s quite different from the effect produced in her oil paintings, with their thicker surface application.
As she deconstructs tradition, Brown selects and creates her own trove of references, often throwing them into a great tumble, mimicking but not quite producing abstraction while playing on order and disorder. She gives us a ground on which to build and shape our perceptions. On one level there are established masters—Hogarth, Miró, the German Expressionists, de Kooning, Guston, and especially Degas—and on the other there are Vogue and other popular publications. Brown’s use of obscenity and scatology is not terribly aggressive. Her feminism is thoughtful, her work inviting. —Barbara MacAdam
Pictured: Cecily Brown: Untitled (Paradise), 2014, watercolor, ink, and ballpoint pen on paper, 14⅛ by 20⅛ inches. Courtesy Drawing Center, New York.