Phoenix S Brown
makes paintings with elements of
drawing, collage, and printmaking.
Using diverse disciplines and
materials allows me to disrupt and
reclaim western conventions of
painting as a woman of color.
By doing this, my work challenges
western portraiture and
preconceived notions of the Black
female body. With contemporary
material and aesthetic choices,
I subvert the one-way window
of fantasy that western painting
has long offered.
Throughout art history, nature
and Blackness have existed as
reserves to exploit; in my work,
they blend and force us to
confront our viewing access to
them. I conceal and reveal parts
of figures to introduce dialogues
of voyeurism and fetishization.
By abstracting representations
of nature, I make botanical
classification, a European
construct, impossible to employ
when foliage resists visual
specificity. Instead, the
presence of nature signals a
fantastical, safe space where I
allow myself to unravel
personal reflections cryptically.
My work grapples with the
disconnect between reality and
euro-centric narratives of Blackness,
womanhood, and the natural world.
There is a feedback loop between
my analog painting and digital
editing visible in the final image.
My interdisciplinary paintings are
layered with impossible brush
strokes from their time in digital
drawing software and maintain a
textured surface that speaks to
the western art canon. I use
technology and various modes of making
to build contemporary reimaginations of
utopias and resistances where Black
womanhood is free from stereotypes,
fetishes, and the white male gaze.