17 October 2020 – 3 January 2021

Cecily Brown: Shipwrecks

Hastings Contemporary – situated on Europe’s oldest fishing beach, and adjacent to the UK’s major shipwreck museum – provides the perfect setting for several large shipwreck paintings and a series of extraordinary watercolours by Cecily Brown.

A small reproduction of Christ Asleep During the Tempest (c.1853) by Delacroix and its resonances with the present day migrant crisis prompted the earliest of Cecily Brown’s Shipwreck drawings, which address the theme of disasters at sea and their similar treatments by other Old Masters. Working iteratively from reproductions, Brown’s Shipwreck drawings deconstruct their sources by scrutinising different scenes within the original works they are based on, often cropping to isolate certain details, and highlighting rhythmic passages of line and form. Some remain relatively empty, others dreadfully full, while one abruptly stops midway along the boat’s hull. Amid the claustrophobic mass of tangled human forms, our eyes dart around in search of their own refuge, settling on the curved perimeter of the boat’s bow and keel, or the large single oar. Meanwhile Brown’s vast paintings simultaneously move between the ephemeral and corporeal, the subject of the shipwreck a perfect ground for both.

Brown’s works in the exhibitionwill be complemented by several Romantic shipwreck paintings, as well as Martin Kippenberger’s studies of Theodore Gericault’s infamous 1819 painting, The Raft of the Medusa.

Cecily Brown was born in London in 1969, and now lives and works in New York. Solo exhibitions include: We Didn’t Mean To Go To Sea, Thomas Dane Gallery, Naples, Italy (2019); Cecily Brown, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humblebaek, Denmark (2018); Triumph of the Vanities II, The Metropolitan Opera House, New York (2018); If Paradise Were Half as Nice, Instituto Tomie Ohtake, Sao Paulo; travelling to: Museo Oscar Niemeyer, Curitiba, Brazil; The Iberê Camargo Foundation, Porto Alegre, Brazil (2018); Cecily Brown: Rehearsal, MCA Santa Barbara, CA (2018); Cecily Brown: Shipwreck Drawings, the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, England (2017); Cecily Brown: Rehearsal, The Drawing Center, New York NY (2017); Madrepora, Thomas Dane Gallery, London, England (2017). Public collections include Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York NY; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York NY; Tate, London, England; The British Museum, London, England.


Cover image: Cecily Brown, Untitled (Shipwreck), 2016, gouache, watercolour, charcoal on paper © The Artist, courtesy of Thomas Dane Gallery

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