Although predetermined notions of history are difficult to reconcile with the reality of cultural pluralism, Brooke McGowen has found a strategy for painting within the Hegelian dialectic.
“lovers in gold,” courtesy of Brooke McGowen

Right now in history painters are called upon to reconcile these two antipodes, to invent a painting that allows the paint to expand freely and still capture the object. 

— Brooke McGowen

The artist argues that while the old masters restricted themselves to representing nature, they nevertheless discovered visual rhythm and strength in their technique.  When Abstract Expressionist painters were free of  this restriction, she sees that the medium became the subject.  McGowen argues that one of the challenges facing the contemporary painter is in synthesizing the two styles. The artist realizes the painting during a creative process that takes place while a narrative unfolds.

"lovers in gold," courtesy of Brooke McGowen
“lovers in gold,” courtesy of Brooke McGowen

By jumping into the unknown the painter will find new solutions to this age-old problem. He may even discover he can fly.  The method chosen is the artist’s endeavor to create the perfect flying machine.  This invention process is a reflection of the attempt to paint the perfect picture.

The artist reconciles the binary challenge by engaging with the physical properties of the paint and capturing familiar, identifiable narratives.  McGowen taps into a force that transcends intention by carefully navigating representation and abstraction and emphasizing the natural tendency of the paint to drip and flow in her creative process.  As a result, she uncovers solutions to age-old problems through coincidences that lead to some of the artist’s best work.


  1. Nice work and eye for picking this artist. Your phrase “She taps into a force that transcends intention by carefully navigating representation and abstraction …” makes me all that more interested in seeing how this happens with her artwork.

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