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The Art of Greg Brown

Master painter, independent thinker, and a man of humor

The indisputable fact about Greg Brown is that he is a master painter, capable of representing anything he wants and in any style he chooses. Artistically speaking, he has no boundaries or limitations.

However, each of Greg’s works should display the following warning: Watch your step: Your misconceptions may send you flying and you will need a hard hat to protect yourself from unsettling contradictions.

Greg’s art is hard to define, but only because it embraces contradictions. In fact, Greg himself is a contradiction. His art could not be otherwise. Is his art serious or is it not? Is he serious or is he not? This is the crux of the matter and where the fascination begins.

Contradictions are unsettling. They keep you up in the air as does Greg and the art he creates. But contradictions are also what keep the viewer completely involved with his work and what the magic is all about.

There are two ways to approach Greg's art: You can either view it casually or you can accept his tacit invitation to “come on in” and become involved. For his art is anything but “easy.” Even when viewed casually, the viewer experiences a feeling of anticipation.

The catch or contradiction inherent in Greg’s work arises from a certain directness of style, a certain innocence and humor which belie both its strength and its power. His art tends to lead the viewer down the proverbial garden path. First you look, then you step back, then there’s the easy chuckle and “oh, I get it,” only to be caught off guard when a second look discloses information that puts the entire straightforwardness of the piece into question – things both disconcerting and somewhat on the edge of consciousness. The unexpected information has to do with the fact that Greg’s art is about ideas, impressions, opinions and people. In a word, his art is intellectual. However, it is represented with an inventiveness, style and humor that makes it approachable.

Greg’s approach to his art is not unlike that of a director’s to his play, which explains why many of his pieces have the components of a stage play. The staging and the props are integral, but it is the grouping of the motionless figures on canvas that contain the story and reveal the information. Add to this Greg’s uncanny capacity to read or discern a subject’s nature or ambiguity of character (whether animal, human or vegetable) and to reveal it in an almost imperceptible gesture, a stiffness of body, a prissiness around the mouth, and only then do you begin to understand just how rich the meaning of his art is.

Noele Silverman