in New York, NY / United States
21.04.2022 - 04.06.2022 00:00
Michael Brown - 2022

Marc Straus is pleased to present our fourth solo exhibition with Michael Brown. Brown began as a sculptor, and that history is evident in his work. He first exhibited his now coveted “gold-leaf” paintings at the gallery in 2019. The palette of his distinctive impasto paintings is reduced to a few reoccurring colors, mostly a deep blue, a soft white, and occasionally a cadmium red. He applies thick threads of squeezed oil paint onto 24 karat gold leaf on canvas creating composition with lines radiating from the center with centrifugal force. The uneven cords of oil create a sculptural texture and they are partly an homage to Agnes Martin’s early paintings with horizontal pencil marks. The gold base dispenses an intangible radiance and glow.

His “in the meantime…” series features artworks that are part sculpture and part painting. Starting with a powerful gesture of striking the surface of an actual mirror, Brown traces the cracks of those with interesting patterns to recreate with his painstaking and unique process. Stainless steel is not only a familiar material for Brown, whose father makes a living as a welder, but also a symbolic one: “Stainless steel, to me is a modern material that represents strength and efficiency…” says Brown. He tames the material with his meticulous and arduous process. For each work, Brown cuts, welds, and polishes hundreds of pieces of stainless steel to recreate the composition of a shattered mirror. The initial impulse is frozen into the finished steel surface that still exudes immediacy. The surface of the mirror is broken and so is our own reflection in it. Unity is lost and looking at the spiderweb of cracks on the surface we see ourselves reflected in a fragmented way, just as the world around us reflects our self-image.

Most recently, Brown has been working on new extensions of the “gold-leaf” paintings. A group of four new paintings show a depiction of the sea in deep indigo blue with the horizon line almost in the middle of the paintings and a gold circle in the center of the image. The paintings float between figuration and abstraction. The naturalistically painted water surface has subtle movement while blending in with a dark blue sky and being in contrast with the geometric form of a perfect gold circle. The reduced composition and sea imagery with the horizon line evokes Hiroshi Sugimoto’s photographs and particularly Vija Celmins graphite drawings. Brown likens his own relationship with the sea to the metaphor for longing and looking at these meditative canvases we can relate to that.

Michael Brown lives and works in upstate New York. At age twenty he was included in a seminal museum exhibit of 12 US graduate students at Hudson Valley MOCA, Peekskill and quickly inducted into the forefront of the contemporary art scene with exhibitions at David Zwirner, Zwirner and Wirth, and with representation at Yvon Lambert Gallery in Paris and New York. In May 2018 he was included in the first Westchester Art Triennial. His work has been featured in The New York Times, Artforum, Time Out New York, and is in prominent collections around the world including the Beth deWoody Rudin Collection, The Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art in Peekskill, NY, the Rennie Collection in Vancouver, Canada and the collection of Sherry and Joel Mallin in New York.

Gallery hours Tue-Sat 11 am – 6 pm

Exhibition Duration 21 April – 4 June 2022


Marc Straus
299 Grand Street
10002 New York, NY
United States


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