‘I was thinking about the possibility that when we change ourselves to match our environments - to be accepted - we may take on and reinforce pre-existing models of belief and behaviour. I am so thoroughly camouflaged that I didn’t perceive it growing up. I wonder about the benefit of having no identity, to wander chameleon-like across different backgrounds, without belief. Would this pose a threat to those that don’t realise that I may be a traitor, hiding in plain sight?’
For her first solo exhibition at FLATLAND, young British artist Alice Browne (1986, Oxford, UK) takes the idea of camouflage as a starting point for considering identity shifts. With reference to the dichotomy of standing out and fitting in, both compositionally and socially, Browne dryly employs forms that reinforce models of duality and continuity in a series of new paintings and works on paper.
The painted works blend background and foreground, colour and pattern as well as attempting to conceal themselves within the backdrop of the gallery for which they were made. These works use the time-fluid void of the canvas to reconsider some of the forms that embellished Browne’s childhood alongside some of the tropes of European art history.
Memories of Yin-Yang’s from cheap jewellery and bong shops, camouflage patterned cargo pants and wave-scroll encircled rugs float alongside symbolic forms lifted from early Renaissance painting and literature - clouds, halos and swathes of floating fabric which reinforce the structural balance, harmony and dualism of heaven and earth, good and bad. Browne questions the usefulness of these ideas and adornments in the search for self –enlightenment as well as testing their utility in the creation of harmonious and abiding artworks.
Browne graduated from the Royal College of Art, London in 2016. In 2017 she was awarded a Studio Residency and Bursary Award at Hospitalfield, Scotland, by New Contemporaries. Before Alice Browne joined FLATLAND in 2018 she was greatly represented by Limoncello, London until gallery owner Rebecca May Marston stopped her gallery in 2017. In 2016 her work was presented at Frieze Art Fair in London by Limoncello. In 2011 and 2012 she was part of the exhibition Young British Art I and II resp at Limoncello and DIENSTGEBÄUDE art space in Zurich, curated by artist Ryan Gander. In 2011 her work was curated by artist Shaun McDowell in the groupshow ‘Nothing Fixed’ at Marcelle Joseph Project / London with work from Varda Caivano, Raoul de Keyser, Christopher Green, Howard Hodgkin, Ralph Hunter-Menzies, Shaun McDowell and Wendy McLean. In 2010 she was selected in the exhibition New Contemporaries which showed at A Foundation, Liverpool and ICA London by Mark Leckey (Turner prize), Dawn Mellor and Gabriel Kuri. Browne had other solo shows at the OUTPOST Gallery, Norwich (2015), Prosjektrom Normanns, Stavanger (2014), Supercollider Contemporary Art Projects, Blackpool (2012) and Jerwood Project Space (2011).