Cecily Brown's small work
People would see them and say, ‘Are they studies for the big ones?’” she recalls. “That got on my nerves because they weren’t. I joked that the big ones had become studies for the small ones. The big ones seemed very fast and loose, and the small ones were very neurotic. There was a while I called them ‘The Neurotic Paintings.’ They were so intense, very painterly, the paint got thicker. You have to believe the viewer has a more intimate relationship because you have to get up close.Belcove talks with Brown about scaling down, source material, process and life. When asked about her source material Brown replied
With the small ones, there’s rarely an outside source. I realized there was a freedom where I’d feel I was doing little animal faces and heads and things while I was painting them, which aren’t necessarily evident later. Sometimes I’d get really into them almost in this hallucinatory way. I’d be thinking, Here’s the little crowd of evil mice. I could sometimes step back at the end of the day and be like, Where are the evil mice? I’d deliberately not get back from them and look, then at the end of the day be like, Whoa!It had become this very dense world, teeming with activity — a little like putting your face close to the grass and realizing all the activity. You see how much is going on in one square inch.
I think, in these, I realized more than ever how important it is for me to have a definite figural thought in mind as I work. For me, when it gets purely abstract, it gets decorative. I need to have the sort of weight behind the mark that I’m trying to say something specific.