Often compared to De Kooning because of her splashy energy and elusive figures, Cecily Brown has filled Gagosian’s massive space with 39 canvases that might be termed Attention-Deficit Abstraction. Unlike the Dutch master’s sweeping contours and fleshy bulges of paint, Brown’s brushstrokes are disjointed smears that deaden any sense of movement. Depicting what seems to be plein-air cunnilingus, the three “Skull Diver” canvases (each about seven feet square) belabor the sexual vein that has lent Brown’s work a wan notoriety. The series features mushy heads bobbing between splayed legs, and while there’s a nicely foreshortened arm here or some thrumming fingers there, which hint at quivering ecstasy, the scattered background daubs congeal into a deadfall of turgid color. Smaller works prove even more inert. Rather than sharpening her all-over motifs, Brown’s smatterings of color feel random and clotted, more paint rag than painting.
Thu., Oct. 23, 10 a.m.; Fri., Oct. 24, 10 a.m.; Sat., Oct. 25, 10 a.m., 2008