ALREADY AND NOT YET
By Eric Brown
May 5 - June 25, 2022
JENNIFER BAAHNG is pleased to announce the gallery representation of Eric Brown and his inaugural show, Already and Not Yet. The exhibition is a showcase of small and easel-sized paintings and works on paper created since 2020. Central to this new body of work is process. Brown employs the sacred process of repetitive mark-making and a meticulous and personal approach to painting to create literal and visual weavings. The resultant paintings appear as handmade textiles that invite an up-close looking. Already and Not Yet evokes metaphors of strength and vulnerability, imperfection, mending, and domesticity. The exhibition will be on view from May 5 through June 11, 2022, with an opening reception on Thursday, May 5, 2022, from 5 pm to 8 pm.
At first glance, the works in Already and Not Yet suggest woven textiles, but they are not paintings of textiles or any singular subject, moment, or linear plot. Drawing on philosopher Roland Barthes’ theory that text is a living fabric interwoven with multiple meanings, Brown shows in these works a striving for a new painterly language. Where it is the nature of semantics to constrain and shape meaning, his painted marks-on-canvas offer a “longhand,” open to the vastness of interpretation, capable of suggesting more than just partial answers.
The Particulars of Rapture (2022), named after a poem by Wallace Stevens, is comprised of three paintings that echo each other with similar themes but individually look different. A visual tension materialized, the work is an elegant manifestation of the cerebral conundrums questioned by the artist. Painted freehand, there is a tenderness of human engagement.
The concept of “already but not yet” was proposed by theologian Geerhardus Vos, who believed that we simultaneously live in the present age and await an “age to come.” Brown observed that amidst the unimaginable loss and suffering especially during the early days of the pandemic, even in our collective wait for a return to “normalcy,” we continue to live.
Spirit, Groan Inwardly While We Wait (2020), created around the first weeks of the pandemic, is the source from which the rest of the works in this show originated. It consists of four various sized panels configured into a cross with an implied fifth panel in the center. Determinedly cross-hatched, through symbolism and abstraction, the work refers to human form and nature. It is calm, temperamental, compelling, and yearning for everyday small miracles.
Intimate, quotidian, diaristic, potent, the works in Already and Not Yet are neither realist nor expressionist. They are direct and unadorned. Repeated delicate marks seemingly fluctuate with natural light and heave in breathing spaces. Already and Not Yet proposes that the spiritual in art may happen on a small scale, rather than in grand, orchestral gestures, and reveals the artist in pursuit of a new abstract vocabulary.
Eric Brown received a B.A. in Studio Art from Vassar College. In 2020, he received a Master of Divinity from the Union Theological Seminary. He is a painter and a chaplain. He is the recipient of the MacDowell Fellowship (2016) and was a Visiting Artist and Scholar at the American Academy in Rome (2015). He has had numerous solo exhibitions, including at Ille Arts, Crush Curatorial, James W. Palmer Gallery, and Theodore: Art. His works have been featured in artcritical, ARTnews, The New Criterion, The New York Observer, and The New York Times. He divides his time between New York City and Sag Harbor.