David Brown’s (b. 1971, Frederick, MD) artistic practice revolves around the accumulation and recurrent use of his signature “eye” motif - comprised of two elliptical lines punctuated by a dot inside the center. This motif and modular grid arrangements serve to reference the human figure and broader systems within which individuals operate, not with the aim of achieving perfection, but rather pointing to the negligible fluctuations that occur and humanize the forms. A graduate of the University of Maryland’s Fine Arts program, Brown’s artworks often vary in scale, amassing thousands of meticulously applied marks on individual panels that accumulate and fill space, pushing the expressive potential of serial abstraction to suggest psychological states.
Brown’s work is anything but mass-produced. In contrast, his hand crafted, repeated marks have an organic and visceral feel. Whereas minimalism uses repetition and serial organization to eschew expression in favor of structural organization, Brown embraces repetition to insinuate variation as well as the process of evolution or transformation which may be seen through the small changes that occur as his materials break down, or as his hand and grip physically tire. According to David, his work “differs from traditional Minimalism by trying to create a more personal and organic, yet still orderly image.” Viewing his art as “functional” Brown states that “…during the creation of each piece, through the replication, I gain the opportunity for personal reflection, contemplation, and meditation.”
The artist often uses variants of pattern to create a sense of rhythm. Composed of thousands of recurring marks, Brown emphasizes both the hand quality of each mark, and the unity of purpose shared by each individual component operating together to invent the whole. Where Brown applies each mark separately, responding to the one that came before, the marks still create a unified look, fitting together to speak of oneness where each individualized work, at a distance, become one undulating or vibrating surface that feels alive. At a distance the work expresses great unity yet taken one at a time as an object of ceremonial contemplation, the work contains more variety than it would appear.
The work acts to unite microcosms and macrocosms. Instead focusing on broader existential questions about the interconnection of humanity, Brown’s large installations serves as a meditative activity, a formal artistic tool, and an expression of labor. He considers the process of making these mandala-like objects an act of breathing and feels “most in the moment” during their making. Yet Brown’s expression of freedom in these works are not complete without the viewer. He is noted as saying that “the viewer’s participation in the process completes the work” because we are not breathing earth’s air in solitary.
Living and working in Baltimore City, David Brown has exhibited in New York, Baltimore, Washington DC, Florida, Texas, California, Virginia, and Illinois. His work is included within myriad private and public collections throughout the United States, including notable designations such as BWI Airport, boutique hotels, and Microsoft’s Art Collection.