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Cecily Brown’s Secret Gardens

How rare! Twenty-nine small paintings by Cecily Brown (twelve-by-fifteen inches or so), done over the last ten years but never shown, can now be seen at the Maccarone Gallery on Morton Street, and in a gemlike book (published by Karma) called The English Garden. Both the show and the book were conceived by Brown’s friend, the novelist and art writer Jim Lewis, who wrote the strange, evocative, and troubling story that is the book’s text. “When Jim came up with that title, The English Garden, I said, ‘Oh, how perfect,’” Brown tells me. “I’d never thought of these small paintings as gardens, but now I think they always were.’”

Brown grew up in the suburbs of London, and, she says, “The garden of the house I grew up in was incredibly important to me. There’s something about going into the studio and painting that’s very similar to playing in the garden by yourself as a child—particularly if it’s a walled garden or a secret garden. You go into this other world, which is fully absorbing. I remember every garden we had in detail.”...

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