• February 23 - March 23
  • Deborah Brown
  • Memento Mori
  • Main gallery

Hans Alf Gallery is proud to present American painter Deborah Brown's first solo exhibition in Scandinavia.


Featuring works created over the past two years, the exhibition is centred around two series: still lifes and New York City streetscapes. Atmospheric, at times haunting, the works offer a significant account of life and work, exploring themes of subjecthood, intimacy, and the negotiation between private and public spheres, reflective of the psychological reality imposed by metropolitan living.

The exhibition reveals the urban grid and communities of New York City, where Brown has lived since 1982, in particular East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where her studio and apartment are located. During the pandemic, she would roam the empty streets with her dog. In the absence of human activity, she began to notice the shadows cast by herself, the protagonist, a spectral flâneur, only connected by a leash to her canine companion. 

From these everyday encounters, she began to paint what would later become her two most iconic series, both represented in this exhibition: Shadow Paintings (2020-2022) and Haunted House (2022). Painted with vivid colours and gestural brushstrokes, they reflect her commitment to figuration while abstraction ascends with her sensitivity and compassion towards her surroundings. As the shadows grow longer, the cityscape, familiar to any New Yorker in the outer boroughs, rises from the wet cobalt and marigold sidewalks like an impressionistic water mirror.

The symphony of colours resonates in the series of still lifes. Her home in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, becomes a study in total artistic immersion. No surface is left untouched by Brown’s vision, or her brush. Even the collectibles - from the Japanese peacock screen to the skulls from her husband’s dental practice, the Danish design classic The Egg, figurines from her mother’s travels and other ephemera - bear Brown’s imprint, full of life. By delving into the details of her own home, she uncovers a portrait of herself, the person who has just left the roomor is standing just outside the frame.

There are two kinds of paintings; the ones you see, and the ones you remember. Brown’s works belong to the latter. They take us back to the materiality of painting, to the physical encounter. It roots us in the moments, and, perhaps, in life itself.

Deborah Brown (b. 1955, California) holds an BA from Yale University and an MFA from Indiana University. Her work is widely represented in national and international museum and private collections, including the ICA, Miami, and the Portland Museum of Art, Maine, by donation from the Alex Katz Foundation. This marks her first solo in Scandinavia. Brown lives and works in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York.


"Memento Mori" opens February 23rd and will be on view through March 23rd.