• Coady Brown

    Coady Brown

    Coady Brown (b.1990) is a painter from Baltimore, MD. She received her BFA from Tyler School of Art, Temple University in 2012 and her MFA from Yale University in 2016. She has exhibited both nationally and internationally with Stems Gallery, 1969 Gallery, Carl Kostyál, Richard Heller, Harper’s Books, and Koenig and Clinton, among others, with an upcoming solo show at Taymour Grahne in September 2021. She is the recipient of several fellowships and residencies including The Fine Arts Work Center, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Fountainhead, Vermont Studio Center, and the Yale/Norfolk School of Art. Her work has featured in The New York Times, The Village Voice, Juxtapoz, and New American Painting. Brown currently lives and works in Philadelphia, PA.

     

  • If you had to introduce someone to your work and practice, how would you describe your current aesthetic and any recurring themes?

    My work centers around how groups, couples, and solitary figures explore self-presentation in both private and public life. I am interested in how intimacies are expressed, how the body retains knowledge and intuits information from its environment. How autonomy, vulnerability, and submission play out within our own interpersonal relationships, as well as how we armour ourselves to face the outside world. The figures are quasi-realistic, but always with exaggerated elements. Realism is not the objective, but instead making sure that the forms have a certain emotional resonance. 

  • What is your typical creative process, medium and starting point for your compositions?

    Confidante (2021)

    What is your typical creative process, medium and starting point for your compositions?

    I always start by sketching. I make a simple line drawing with pencil so I can plan out every element of the composition. A composition's dynamics is something I think about constantly. What your eye is drawn to first, how your eye moves around the canvas, and where the viewer enters and exits the scene. The pacing of an image is deeply dependent on composition, so I make sure to take a lot of time in the beginning stages of planning to make sure everything in the painting is serving a purpose. Then when I am ready to start painting, I spend a lot of time working on a monochromatic underpainting, making sure everything scales up accurately from the drawing. Once the underpainting is resolved, I start in with color. I approach color a lot more loosely than I do drawing. I tend to have a dominant color idea to begin with (for example, if it is going to be a mostly pink and green painting, yellow and blue, etc) and an understanding of the light source and I work from there. I try to keep color and pattern pretty improvisational, since my ideas tend to evolve and crystallize as I work. It is important to me to make sure I am always staying open to the process of painting itself and allow for flexibility to adjust things as I go. 

     

     

  • Your vibrant compositions often feature tightly framed figures inhabiting intimate spaces. Where do you find inspiration for these figures? And what themes are you exploring?

    The inspiration for the figures comes from everywhere. My friends, my partner, my experiences, people I see on the street. Observing peoples’ natural poses and gestures always spark new ideas. Our bodies are so eloquent at naturally expressing themselves. As cliche as the idea is, most of our communication is non-verbal. So I find that creating images is a way to really richly explore that territory. Themes of the work involve desire, love, voyeurism, paranoia, and the anxiety of contemporary life.

     

     

  • I feel like your paintings contain so many intriguing allusions to other areas of popular culture including cinema, fashion, the internet etc. Does this ring true for you? If so, what cultural references do you think are embedded in your work?

    Absolutely. I am always looking at fashion, editorial photo shoots, music videos, film and television for inspiration. There are so many references in the work that all meld together. Some references are more conceptual, artists who have really influenced how I look at the world. Designers like Alexander McQueen, who in his early collections so effortlessly blended beauty and violence to create a truly honest representation of what it means to move through the world with a feminized body. I am always drawn to creators who investigate form and how it can be manipulated to explore complex narratives. Missy Elliot’s early music videos for example, how she played with shape and scale, blowing up the proportions of her body, playing to the perspective of the camera lens, was so genius and ahead of its time. I look to creators who understand the fluid nature of identity, that gender is essentially a joke but its ramifications are devastatingly real. How we are seen, preyed upon, embraced, or rejected. Art history always looms large in my mind and I continually reference other painters. The history of figurative painting is completely dominated by the male perspective, so it has always been important to me that I can contribute to the dialogue in a thoughtful and meaningful way. 

  • How would you describe your use of colour?

    Bloom (2021)

    How would you describe your use of colour?

    My mentor in grad school Will Villalongo always talked about color as color space. How color should be thought of as an environment instead of something that exists singularly. Color is relational. It creates mood and tone, and, like cinema, can dictate the entire ethos of an image or storyline. Like how Pedro Almodóvar uses the color red in the film All About My Mother. It is both suffocating and completely energizing in a totalizing way, the same way the color red functions in Matisse’s Red Studio. There are endless connections between film and painting. I use color as a way to heighten the atmosphere of a scene. The images I paint are based in the everyday, but have an element of the surreal, everything is exaggerated in a way that makes your senses go into overdrive. The volume is turned up a little louder, bringing things into a sharper, more acidic focus. 

     

  • Are there any upcoming shows or events that we can look forward to?

    Bully (2021)

    Are there any upcoming shows or events that we can look forward to?
    I have an upcoming solo show with Taymour Grahne in London this September. I am working at a more intimate scale than for my last show, so things are developing in a slower and more detail-oriented way, which I enjoy because it allows me to dive into the specifics. Over the last year I have been able to be hyper-focused and demanding in the studio in a way that feels really good. Like I am falling deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole......... and I'm ready for it.