Coady Brown: Only in the Darkness Can You See the Stars
Shulamit Nazarian is pleased to present Only in the Darkness Can You See the Stars, a solo exhibition of new paintings by Philadelphia-based Coady Brown. This will be the artist’s first solo exhibition with the gallery.
Brown’s paintings examine how groups, couples, and solitary figures navigate self-presentation in private and public life. For this new series, Brown utilizes the dark nightlife of a disco as a thematic parameter to conjure the experience of gathering in a space designated for catharsis and ecstatic exaltation. Bodies are often compressed into tightly framed, intimate spaces that expose the vulnerabilities and the delicate nature of our interpersonal connections and relationships. Through attention to lighting, vibrant clothing, and high-contrast moments between the body and the background, Brown orchestrates psychologically charged environments that pulse with a sense of mystery and wonder.
Clothing, for Brown, is a distinct marker and extension of one’s psyche. She often depicts vibrant and chaotic patterns that both camouflage her subjects and allow them to be unabashedly present and visible. The body is rendered with exaggeration, often androgynous, and assertively occupying most of the picture plane. Brown emphasizes gender fluidity and femininity as sources of both strength and extreme vulnerability. Her signature bouquet painting, an homage to the present moment that marks each new grouping of work, is included alongside the figurative paintings. The work symbolizes the cycle of life and death, celebration and mourning and love—both romantic and platonic. Throughout the show, flowers, faces, and geometric patterns become distinct markers of this moment in time.
Giving as much attention to the accessories of the scene as she does the figure, Brown conjures a precise instant within a specific world. Gestural brushstrokes and saturated colors restage the sensory experience of being immersed in the disco while slowing the stimulating scene to a pause. In carefully crafting these particular junctures, she lingers not only on the figure in space but also their interiority. Brown recalls how memories are enacted, “Memories are all attached to other senses—the smell of the room, the music, the lighting, the feelings of attraction. These memories can touch us, and recalling them can allow you to feel grounded and present, opening you back up to a moment.” Her works compel a slow gaze, postponing an event to wring it out of all its distinctive and special experiences, bringing us closer to being present in the body and truly connected to our surroundings.
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, Ixelles, Belgium; 1969 Gallery, New York, NY; Carl Kostyál, London; Richard Heller, Santa Monica; Francois Ghebaly, Los Angeles; and Harper’s Books, East Hampton, NY; among others. She is the recipient of several fellowships and residencies including The Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, MA; Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Fountainhead, Miami, FL; Vermont Studio Center; and the Yale/Norfolk School of Art. Her work has been written about in The New York Times, The Village Voice, and New American Painting. Brown’s works are in the permanent collections of the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, and the Columbus Museum of Art.