In his new show at HQ Don Brown presents new works from his on-going series of sculptures of his wife, Yoko. The pure white figures, recreating Yoko at half or three quarter scale, are breathtaking in their perfection. Brown’s understated aesthetic belies his technical virtuosity and attention to the tiniest detail. His contemporary take on classical realism leads him on a parallel quest for and celebration of the sculptural and physical ideal.
In the new sculptures Yoko is portrayed in natural poses. In one she sits slumped on a chair, her legs at angles and head lolling as she takes a nap. Again sitting, but this time awake she perches on the edge of a table, her hands resting on the top, her ankles loosely crossed. Standing upright in a floor length dress, her formal pose is disrupted as one hand reaches across the body in a slightly self conscious gesture, to support the other elbow; sculptural majesty is replaced by a recognizable humanity. In Double Yoko it is as if two identical twins stand together, naked but for their knickers and wedge sandals. One has her hand round the other’s waist, while the other returns the gentle embrace by resting her hand on her companion’s shoulder.
The natural way in which Brown allows the body to seek and offer support, from furniture, from another person, from itself, contrasts with the conventions of classical sculpture, where celebration of physical prowess called for the figures to stand strong and their implied dynamism always somehow seemed static. Into gestures and movements that were once theatrical and posed, Brown has injected a sense of fluidity. Similarly, by eschewing the heavy materials of classicism, he has forsaken gravitas in favour of something more delicate, more ephemeral and more human. While Brown pares down towards the essence of beauty, Yoko retains vestiges of her humanity, including her vulnerability, sexuality and dignity.
Don Brown lives and works in London. This is his third show at Sadie Coles HQ. His work has been included in group shows throughout Britain and the rest of Europe, including the Summer show at the Royal Academy in 2002.