REVIEWS AND ESSAYS
Raleigh-based Ashlynn Browning paints abstract structures — often resembling a geodesic polyp-like building containing levels of smaller lattices within — on wooden panels.
Her work in this show is larger than work from just a year or two ago but the structures and shapes she depicts still look like gigantic objects on a small square or rectangle.
The figures always meet or extend beyond the edges of the panels, implying that your vantage is from far away or above. It’s an implausible line of sight,
which is exciting rather than disorienting. Browning’s uncanny use of color is what makes that difference. Even her darkest backgrounds remain warm.
Browning also paints these backgrounds over figural lines only visible texturally as raised ridges across space,
like how a cartoonist uses a dotted outline to indicate an invisible thing. This is like erasure,
as if she decided that the first structure she painted was no good and painted over it. But it’s not a correction;
it’s intentionally disrupting a simple figure/ground reading of the image.
Browning’s textural layer opens a fractional dimensionality between the two-dimensional presence of the panel’s area and the three-dimensional shape
with its sense of distance from your vantage. By making something invisible visible, she’s reminding you that there’s more to reality than what you can see or know.
Chris Vitello, essay, Flanders Gallery: New Angles exhibition, Novemeber 2012.
Browning is not a shrinking violet of an artist. Her works are very bold, edgy, in-your-face abstractions, and I love seeing them in the elegantly
historic setting of the Horace Williams House with its Octagon Salon and hardwood floors.
Louis St. Lewis, Metro Magazine, April issue 2010
Her painting is lush and primal, impulsive and a bit unsettling. In her painting "Onward and Upward", Browning embraced that spirit
once embraced by the untethered American beast of Abstract Expressionism. "My goal is to strike a balance of structure and accident,
restraint and recklessness, deliberation and instinct. This resonates with me as being truthful." From a ground of gray/green, strokes
of white and charcoal rushed and tumbled down the face of the painting, brown scumbled gestures scarred the bottom face, and acrobatic
red calligraphy laced the top, describing that difficult-to-grip space between "restraint and recklessness." Browning paints the messy,
inexorable language of longing.
Scott Lucas, Carolina's Got Art Exhibition, October 2009
building/ burning/ growing is Ashlynn Browning's
collection of recent mixed media works on paper at Flanders
Gallery. These works flaunt the beauty of their materials in
compositions of endless variation and resonant consistency. In
"Afternoon Languor Turns to Dusk," the work's layered surface
reflects the history of its making and plays up the
luxuriousness of paint itself. Here, as in many of the works on
view, Browning integrates the grids she has explored in past
paintings, but now she seems to have expanded the story,
allowing organic forms to emerge in and around the initial
A small grouping of the work includes the artist's gutsy torn
pieces, works that appear to be fragments of larger works,
breathless abbreviations of Browning's painterly prowess.
Perhaps a few nonbelievers might be enticed by the considerable
pleasure to be had in these well-constructed offerings.
Amy White, Independent Weekly, Sept. 24,
Browning has always had a little bit of a Cy Twombly
vibe with her works on paper, but these new pieces seem more
confident and more personal to her own unique viewpoint. They
are still as charged with energy as before, but now bold color
has swept onto the panels to amazing effect. Non-figurative
artists sometimes have a hard go here in our fair state, where
people are inclined to lean toward bland landscapes and
corporate wallpaper. But hopefully, with the area growing in
sophistication more and more, Browning will be recognized for
what she is — a talented, competent art professional
worthy of your patronage and collecting.
Louis St. Lewis, Metro
Magazine, September issue, 2008.
Overall, Browning pursues a style that "balances
order and chaos, emotion and restraint, the inner and outer
life," though it is easy to assume that her chunky
networks are the result of quick sketches and automatic
immediacy. Time spent with her lush surfaces and gestures
reveals a deeply structured nature, a process ruled by
controlled accidents that weave and build upon themselves layer
by layer, edit by careful edit.
Leah Stoddard, catalogue essay, Artspace: Tangible Gestures
exhibition, November 2007.
influence of nature on this new body of work is apparent on
many levels. There is a fecundity in the abundance of pieces, a
feeling of fertility, evidence of the life force that catalyzed
their production. It is also interesting to note the shift in
these works from linguistic gestural modes that reference the
art of Cy Twombly to an abstract, organic impulse that seems
more in the lineage of painter Joan Mitchell.
Amy White, Independent Weekly, Aug. 22,
Ashlynn Browning is a young artist on the rise with a
dedication to her craft and a sensitivity to line that rivals
the early work of Cy Twombly.
Louis St. Lewis, Metro
Magazine, December issue, 2006.
Informed by Mark Tobey's
ghostly all-over marks, Cy Twombly's tangled scribbles and the
elegance of Asian calligraphy, Browning forges her own linear
Michele Natale, Independent Weekly, June 21,
"Ten Best Shows in the Triangle, 2005." Margie Stewart
and Ashlynn Browning at Lee Hansley Gallery, May 2005.
Blue Greenberg, Durham Herald-Sun, Dec. 29,
Browning's work is based on written marks freely
scrawled in graphite or oil stick, then torn up and layered
onto canvas, leaving their meaning both legible and
obscured. A restricted palette of whites, grays and
blacks makes the eye concentrate on the qualities of
line--heavy, fine, sure, nervous--that unfurl across her
surfaces. There is a Zen quality to these works, and
some, such as in "Peace and Fury," would seem to reference
Chinese ink-brushed mountainscapes, though the ostensible
subject matter is quite different.
Michele Natale, Raleigh News and Observer, January 7,
Ashlynn's work is like
calligraphy, like a dance. It reminds me of Twombly, of the
orient--rugged mental landscapes and the gentle scratchings of
Louis St. Lewis, Metro
Magazine, April issue, 2005.
paintings are deceptively simple, some scribbly black lines on
a sheet of paper, with touches of creamy paint or a smudge of
black and a few collaged elements. "Sensory" is just one
example, however, of how complex and carefully thought out they
are. Browning has a surety of composition and line that
is quite remarkable for someone so young. Sometimes her
scribbles almost turn into a decipherable word; sometimes a
face almost comes into focus. It is that spectral touch
that will pull you in for a second look.
Blue Greenberg, Durham Herald-Sun, April 24,
There is another sort of intimacy in art that
eliminates the image as a goal and forces the viewer to deal
more directly with the means. Ashlynn Browning creates work
very much in this vein. Her drawing is participatory-upon
coming to her work the viewer is invited to make the work with
her-to follow her hand as spaces and events are created.
This is perhaps the most intimate experience one can have with
an art work. It is an experience special to drawing and
one which is rarely if ever experienced in painting. The
poetry of her work is palpable.
Gregory Amenoff, catalogue essay, CUE Art Foundation
Exhibition: 2002-2003 Joan Mitchell Foundation MFA Grant
Winners. June 2004.