Melissa Brown is a printmaker who has turned her attention towards painting and animation. Her paintings repeat imagery in the way a print might, but also take on the physical quality of paint. This hybridity allows the paintings to have elements that are both familiar and strange. Brown’s animation is also a hybrid of print and paint. The animation you are about to click on is set to a mellow carnivalesque tune. Melissa has worked with games, in their various forms, to create her art. She has used the folded paper Fortune Teller we all used in grade school, and all the way up to an all-night performance on how to win the State Lottery in front of a movie screen filled with diagrams. Brown’s new animation keeps with this interest in games. It is based on an old street con, the shell game. You can see that animation in the Dinter Project Room.
When I have spoken to Melissa about her work she always starts by telling me something very technical, like something about the lighting, but we eventually talk about how the patterns and spaces in the work make us feel. This new work has a sort of physical effect on me, like a great bass line that comes out of nowhere, and, even though you’re in a bad mood, makes you dance with your seat belt on at a red light in your car at an intersection. Brown is in a group show at a Bright Lyons called Freak Furniture Fan Club with two other great printmakers Leif Golberg and Erin Rosenthal.
Melissa Brown makes art which deliberately engages the precarious mental territory where reality and fantasy are indistinguishable, not in the sense of a narrative which may or may not be true, but in the sense of the inconsistency and vagaries of perception when vision gets a hard slap of imagination. A little over a year ago Beautiful/Decay did a studio visit with Melissa where we discussed her large scale prints (made with a steam roller) and scratch tickets collages of dizzying geometric complexity.
Nestled around a fire, inside a cozy cave, the first painter picked up some charcoal and drew a Mastodon. The Cave is also the place where Plato described the world unenlightened people view as “shadows of the images the fire throws” against the back wall. Courbet painted his cavern, The Source of the Loue, with an oarsman like the mythical Charon, ferrying people across the river Styx for a coin. Caves are mysterious places, tied into our deepest roots: metaphors for our experiences, fears, and knowledge. Melissa Brown, who we did a studio visit with a few months ago, has been working with an interesting group of printmakers at Random Number. She has a new silkscreen out – Cave View. Check, it, out.
Ventured over to Brooklyn to see what visual awesomeness Melissa Brown was up to in her studio. Melissa had the studio organized for making large-scale prints. She’s known for working with a variety of media including: used scratch tickets, oil paint, lino-cuts, wood-cuts, drawing, mail art, video, and performance. The color in Brown’s prints and paintings is what initially drew me to her work, but I admire her work for its openness and psychological generosity. Talking with Melissa was really fun. I actually got a little dadarhea of the mouth and started talking about philosophy, which in retrospect is embarrassing. Melissa is in a bunch of cool shows, one at Canada called Dadarhea which runs until March 20th, and two upcoming shows: Paper A-Z at Sue Scott, and the upcoming show at Zieher Smith in Chelsea.