Don Brown: Fleurs

Don Brown,Sadie Coles HQ Bury Street

Don Brown paints flowers using only black and white oil pigment. The results are images of great elegance, which direct our attention to the structure of the flowers, their relative neatness or decadence, primness or unselfconsciousness, complexity or simplicity of form. Looking closer we can detect the subtle differences in texture and translucency between leaves, petals, and the treasuries of pollen at the centre: the character of the plant emerges, without the obvious cue of colour. This character is deliberately mysterious and puzzling, provocative even. Carefully deployed highlights and a shallow depth of field mean that peripheral parts seem to disappear into the hazy backgrounds, as if into wells of darkness.

Reducing images to tonal contrast is not the same as painting in black and white, as you would find, for example in a printed image, like a woodcut. Nor is this monochrome (single colour) painting, but rather as if colour has been introduced as the smallest element, the tiniest homeopathic drop of hue to stimulate our senses. It is in part imaginary: we are so used to seeing the rich colours of flowers that we imagine the petals of the Peony to be pink, or the stems of the flowers to be green. It is also the physical result of using pigment that can be applied thinly, using oil medium, to create different levels of light refraction, creating chromatic tints that are somehow, imperceptibly there.

Duration 16 March 2023 - 22 April 2023
Times Tues - Sat 11am - 6pm
Cost Free
Venue Sadie Coles HQ (Bury Street)
Address 8 Bury Street, London, SW1Y 6AB
Contact 442074938611 / /


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