BRICE BROWN and DON JOINT: A MARRIAGE IN PAINT
April 2, 2004 May 22, 2004
With all of the controversy now surrounding the subject of same-sex marriage, we are fortunate that within the world of the visual arts, no license or public ceremony is required to achieve a state of aesthetic engagement. Although painters Brice Brown and Don Joint do not feel it necessary to secure a legal document to officiate their union, they wish to use the occasion of this exhibition to express their support for those who do. To reflect these concerns, they have collaborated on the production of a single painting appropriately entitled The Embrace that serves to unite their respective styles, an aesthetic offspring that symbolizes a union that no government or governmental agency state or federal is empowered to cast asunder.
Brice Brown and Don Joint have shared a studio for eight years. They are both abstract painters who work in distinctly different styles; yet, over the years, similarities in their pictures have gradually emerged. Why this has occurred is difficult to determine. It was not done consciously. Their paintings seem to possess lives of their own, conversing from one side of the studio to the other in a silent exchange that only the works themselves fully understand. In this respect, the artists serve only as conveyors of information, unwitting though essential components in a complex, ongoing process of aesthetic communication.
The fact that this exchange takes place at all is remarkable, for the artists come from contrasting social backgrounds, and their approaches to picture-making differ significantly. Brice Brown grew up in Louisville, Kentucky and majored in painting at Dartmouth College; Don Joint was raised in Erie, Pennsylvania and, with the exception of a few independent-study classes, is largely self-educated. Brown constructs his paintings as a series of signs based on a poetic pattern established in the Middle Ages, while many of Jointıs abstractions are derived from the composition of Old Master paintings.
Despite these very disparate sources, a number of factors account for a commonality of expression. Just as accents and dialects develop in a language as a consequence of regional isolation, these two artists have immersed themselves in a relatively exclusive environment of painters and critics who judge quality in works of art on the basis of formal characteristics alone. Either through a loose handling of pigment (Brown), or by means of a hard-edged and tightly organized composition (Joint), each artist draws attention to the inherent physicality of their painting, readily acknowledging its existence as an object that occupies the same space as the viewer. Moreover, both artists identify their lineage from the same roster of European modernists: Cézanne, Kandinsky, Klee, Mondrian and Matisse. They are also aware of their respective positions within a continuum of American abstract art; the paintings of Brice Brown share certain affinities with those of Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline and Richard Diebenkorn, whereas Don Jointıs works are closer to those of Patrick Henry Bruce, Richard Anuskiewicz and Carl Holty.