Sunday, March 16, 2008

Roger Brown: Southern Exposure at the Katzen Museum

Roger Brown, "Sarajevo the Serbian Way," oil on canvas, 1993

By Josh Baptista

Roger Brown is showing at The Katzen in his show, "Southern Exposure." As one might imagine, yes, it was as boring as one might find the south to be at times. If you want to relax and get away from the hustling of the concrete jungle then this is the show to go to.

My first reaction to this show consisted of feeling the flatness of the South apparent in his paintings. The sculpture and paintings all imitate a clean and illustrative narrative. I found them to be boring. The colors did nothing for me. At points, I imagined how someone arrived in this museum. For me it seemed unfathomable to reach a conclusion as to how the work arrived here and can only contribute it to being about the time that this artist was a live. Therefore, around the 80's and 90's, the economy was good and that is maybe where this artist has gotten a break.

I want to discuss the idea of straight flat lines. When I look at an Edward Hopper who uses the same qualities that Brown does, it still has substance. If the goal of this work is to provide a feeling of nothingness, then I think they succeed especially in the landscape pieces. These big, vast, empty worlds with small generalized insignificant people. However, wait...

Brown is exactly going for that- this is what wants (nothingness). He wants us to feel the empty of everyday. By using these imaginary landscapes, he detaches us from ourselves and our world and allows us to really look at what is going on.

The breakdown of how no one really knows anybody and everybody is on this journey by themselves. The loss of humanity through building structures and the irony of how physically close we are but mentally detached. In even more we encourage these structures to divide us and create our false sense of security. Then in privacy, we wonder what the other person is doing.

I cannot say I feel in love with these paintings or sculptures, but I do embrace their concepts. This is interesting, because I really do not look at them as paintings anymore but more as ideas, thoughts.

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