Paul S. Brown

Paul S. Brown
Paul S. Brown paints clarity and stillness.

In the process he also does some exceptional still life paintings.

Brown is represented by the Gandy Gallery, a bastion of classical realism, and the selection of his work visible there includes a number of still life paintings, as well as several portraits and self-portraits and a small selection of drawings. I was unable to locate a web presence for the artist other than the Gandy Gallery site.

Brown was born in the U.S., and now lives in the UK. Along the way he studied in the U.S. and later studied and then taught at the Florence Academy of Art in Italy.

Brown’s still life paintings are in the classical tradition in more than one way; they are carefully chosen and arranged tableaux of traditional still life subjects, fruit, vegetables, dish and glassware, set on table tops or tablecloths, and painted with an eye to the Dutch genre painters, but with a vibrant, painterly handling of the materials and a sharp, contemporary sensibility for color.

His objects, in particular vegetables and fruit, carry a tactile sensation of both the physical surface of the objects themselves, the rough sheen of a zucchini, the glossy smoothness of an eggplant or the crisp crinkle of an onion’s skin, and the physical reality of paint on a surface. Though he will sometimes set them against more complex backgrounds, he more often sets his objects off with deceptively simple fields of color, that actually are carefully controlled and contain variations of hue and texture that are a subtle part of the composition, and serve to lead your eye around the work as a more complex background might.

His simple objects are often resting on interesting surfaces, textured wood, smooth but variegated marble, or rows and folds of arranged cloth.

To me, the paintings seem to speak of quite contemplation and the zen-like selfless state that sometimes comes of relaxed focus and careful observation of the visual world.

3 Replies to “Paul S. Brown”

  1. This one is pretty. (Boy, don’t I sound like a high-brow art critic?)

    You are very right about the simple background color meshing into the whole. This would be very different with a window or wallpaper behind it.

    Lately I have found myself mesmerized by hyper realiatic works. This was is breath-taking. That bottle could be a photo. Amazing

  2. Paul’s work is indeed breathtaking, however there are a couple things that I noticed in the composition. Before writing about it, I waited a day, checking 3 times to see my reaction many hours apart. The reaction stayed relatively persistent. The onions, the bottle, the wood, and the background are painted seductively. But the wooden table feels like a second painting. Each time I look at the work, I see the same dynamic. The side of the table is competing with the subject for attention. Every element in the piece is given a place of prominence, except the egg plants which are used as devices for the chiaroscuro effect, balancing the right side of the composition. They assume the lazy idleness of walruses on the shore, overlapping their heavy bodies into a singular heap. I think it’s a most effective and genial approach to painting the egg plants, but once again, I wonder if this is not part of another story. If the lazing dark purple disturbs the underlying psychology of the painting just a tad, I still find Paul Brown’s work to be most remarkable. I think he has bypassed photo realism. The onions and olive oil are purposely richer than their models. The composition has a stable weight, like most still lives, but the color refuses to stay put. While the onion skins are dry and crispy, they share a visual fluidity with the olive oil as they pour themselves into our vision.

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