‘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.