Wednesday, October 31, 2012

With Fish and Cat

Joan Brown "Self-Portrait with Fish and Cat"  1970
San Jose Museum of Art
If you've got a fish, and a cat and a paintbrush, you are pretty set. I'm not sure what the symbology meant to Brown but to me the cat stands for companionship. the brush for creative life and the fish symbolizes food, nourishment. Plus, the big size of the fish is pretty funny. The red background speaks of energy and warmth. Looking at this painting definitely gives me a pleasant sense of satisfaction on several levels. How about you?

Joan Brown (1938-1990) grew up in San Francisco and attended the California School of Fine Arts. Studying with Elmer Bischoff, Brown eventually became part of the second generation Bay Area Figurative Movement. Her work is usually characterized by a playful spirit contrasted with an elegant sense of composition which includes pattern and line elements. Her earlier work was more like Bischoff's own, but her later work became more linear and flat, with bright colors and a distinct sense of humor. Brown's work is in major museums world-wide and has received numerous honors and grants including a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1977.

Brown has said, " Iʼm not any one thing: Iʼm not just a teacher, Iʼm not just a mother, Iʼm not just a painter, Iʼm all these things plus, and the more areas I can tap, the richer each one of the others will be."

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