Born in 1966 in Hexham (Northumberland), in the northeast of England, Glenn Brown lives and works chiefly in London. In 1989 he took part in the touring exhibition New Contemporaries, dedicated to emerging young artists working in Britain. Three years later, he completed his MA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College in London.
Since the start of his career, Glenn Brown has interrogated the originality of the artwork and affirmed his intention to “paint paint”. He is influenced by the practices of Sigmar Polke and Gerhard Richter, who used photography and the printed image to evolve a new kind of painting in an epoch that seemed to have pronounced the medium dead. Thus Glenn Brown looks at photographs and other reproductions of paintings and drawings, and proceeds to subject them to a unique transformation.
His entire art is based on innovative methods of appropriating and reconfiguring works belonging essentially to the past. In his first solo show in France, for example, held in 2000 at the Centre d’art contemporain at the Domaine de Kerguéhennec in Bignan, the artist presented paintings imprinted with multiple references to the works of Salvador Dalí, the Neo-Expressionist portraits of the British artist Frank Auerbach, and illustrations issuing from the universe of science fiction. There as here, Glenn Brown showed sculptures conceptually related to his works in two dimensions. But while these latter exude the deceptive air of being textured, they are in reality characterized by absolute flatness, each stroke of paint being executed with an extremely fine brush of the type commonly employed in the sphere of vehicle bodywork repair.
Thanks to his perfect mastery of the trompe-l’oeil technique, Glenn Brown succeeds in infusing his pictures with the illusion of depth. His use of a slightly garish palette, combined with a proliferation of marks and lines of all kinds, confers upon his works an expressive, reinvented classicism, a subjective mannerism, which continues right up to the present.
Glenn Brown’s work has been the subject of numerous exhibitions with evocative titles both in Britain and abroad, signalling his role in the renewal of contemporary painting: a painting that looks at the history of western art in order to “digest” and “transform” its given styles, and subsequently to produce a psychological content and an idiosyncratic universe.