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A painting does not have to tell a story. It does not have to create a world. It is an image-object; it only has to speak for itself.

Yet, consider the multi-frame problem—a single painting compartmentalized into sections. In the multi-frame paradigm, each frame stands alone, yet also supports a sequence. When one image follows another, meaning is generated in the mind even when the images resist. The frames restrict the images at the same time as they invite them. It takes a confident and skilled artist to conjure myths and legends out of the vacant plazas of this enigmatic structure.

Raised on comic books and films when those mediums first dominated the storytelling landscape, Roger Brown (1941 – 1997) considered the multi-frame image essential to the American visual vernacular. Throughout his career, Brown returned often to the multi-frame structure, demonstrating how both the mightiest depths and pettiest shallows of our national drama could be revealed within its format, especially with the careful addition of text.

Roger Brown: Hyperframe is the first exhibition ever to focus precisely on this unique aspect of Brown’s practice. Bringing together ten large, multi-frame paintings, as well as works on paper and Brown’s personal sketchbooks, it offers a unique glimpse into Brown’s shrewd wit, as well as his masterful grasp of what author and theorist Thierry Groensteen describes as spatio-topical networks—defined story spaces in which localized conversations unfold. Groensteen coined the term “hyperframe” to describe a container for spatio-topical networks. The canvas of a multi-frame painting is a hyperframe, and the gallery, perhaps, an extended hyperframe—a container for containers. Ultimately, Brown’s multi-frame oeuvre suggests the entire modern world is a network of hyperframes, extending from the multitude of box-like windows, shining like yellow eyes, on the homes, cars, factories, and skyscrapers of his paintings, to our offices and bedrooms, our social media feeds and browser windows.


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