Deborah Brown’s paintings depict a female protagonist in natural spaces as she walks on the beach, journeys through the forest or paddles a canoe. Stripped of her protective and identifying clothing, she navigates the landscape as if in a dream. Her nudity makes her seem simultaneously vulnerable and powerful as if she has returned to archaic origins. The presence of a canine companion implies a departure or exile from a domestic setting as well as an unseen threat that might require protective services. The imagery of a boat woman (the “Death Maiden”) recalls Charon the ferryman from Greek mythology who conducted the souls of the dead across the River Styx from the world of the living to the world of the dead.
Nomad Exquisite is taken from the title of a poem by Wallace Stevens that explores the relationship between nature and the observer. As viewers, our role is ambiguous. Are we intruder, rescuer, stalker or friend? The artist locates us close to the protagonist but we remain unsure of the narrative we observe and our place in it.