Monya Rowe Gallery is pleased to announce a solo exhibition of new paintings by Amy Longenecker-Brown. This is Longenecker-Brown’s second solo exhibition at Monya Rowe Gallery.
The title of the exhibition, Cloistered Virgin Fancies, was inspired by Gustav Flaubert’s novel The Temptation of Saint Anthony (1874), and in particular the introduction in The Modern Library edition by the philosopher Michel Foucault. As the exhibition title suggests, the new paintings explore the relationship between restraint and action. For example, in Fleur Forsyte Loves Jon Forsyte (2009), an empty theatre is depicted with a projection of two people kissing on a movie screen. At once exuding loneliness and passion, the viewer becomes the voyeur and the protagonist. Throughout the exhibition, actual experiences are mediated through cinema and literature. For instance, experiencing a love affair without the lover or watching it happen to others…the “safe” way. Each painting renders a small climactic moment within an empty room that could change the course of a character’s future, for better or worse.
Excerpt from The Mystery of Pain: A Book for the Sorrowful (1905):
“Incessantly man aims at ends which do not involve self-abandonment; incessantly they are denied to him; or, when gained, deceive his hope. Satisfaction is withheld; the best founded hopes prove vain; the highest powers fail; experiments, on which the brightest expectations have been founded, fall in ruin; no lesser end suffices; but, by failure and discontent, man is driven ever onward.” – James Hinton
While some of the paintings act as an interception between reality and fiction, here known as the “safe” moments, Longenecker-Brown also confronts us with a series of small (8 by 10 inches) realistic paintings that act as an abrupt contrast to the more minimally painted works. These compositions force the viewer to face reality without having the safe distance of film or literature. It’s a vacillation between facing a tragedy or a love affair, rather than watching or reading one.
The realistic paintings in the exhibition, devoid of figures, suggest a traditional sense of domesticity or security: a bedroom, a church, a bathroom and a kitchen. However, they act as a metaphor for an unforeseen tragedy; the church is on fire and the bathroom is dilapidated. In Kitchen (2009) it appears an explosion or fire has taken place, but there is no way to decipher what lead up to it or what caused it. Longenecker-Brown seems to suggest that living vicariously through film, imagination and literature is an emotional safe haven.
Although the paintings portray concentrated moments of passion and love, there is a strong under lying thread of cynicism throughout; if you don’t get involved, you won’t be hurt. In Nana (2009) a section of the text from Emile Zola’s (1840-1902) novel of the same title is replicated: “…Nana is a crepuscular novel. Its laughter is shrill, its lights are too bright, its frenzies are dangerous, its’ small moments of actual happiness are so obviously doomed they seem sadistically intended.”
Amy Longenecker-Brown received a MFA from Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University, New Jersey and a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island, including a summer study abroad in Rome, Italy. She lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.