-Franz Wright, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet


“The Ackland is delighted to have acquired this splendid painting [Blue Elegy], a major work by one of the state’s leading painters. It is a powerful abstraction, layered and meditative, that significantly enriches our holdings.”
–Peter Nisbet, Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs, Ackland Art Museum

“Chapel Hill artist Mark Brown, a much celebrated, widely collected, very private painter, lives deep in the woods… In the studio behind his house, he paints large, meditative, deeply saturated abstract works, many on distinct lozenge-shaped canvases and panels of birch… Curators and critics have compared his work to Mark Rothko and Frank Stella… Brown’s work reflects a distinct interiority, and aims to inspire a similar contemplativeness in its viewer.”
–Liza Roberts, Art of the State, University of North Carolina Press (2022)

“Working freehand, Brown brings a sense of touch to the formal precision of geometric abstraction. As an alternative to modernism’s relentless logic, he proposes a slow, meditative practice of gestural improvisation that resists analysis.”
-Hearne Pardee, painter, professor and critic, Mark Brown: Unspoken Epiphanies monograph essay

“A contemporary answer to such pillars of 20th century painting as Mark Rothko and Frank Stella, Mark Brown’s paintings defy the easy application of outside narratives. His paint application and mark-making brings viewers continually back to the present moment.”
–Shana Dumont Garr, Curator, Fruitlands Museum, Harvard, MA

“Winterreise 17, Mark Brown’s stripe painting on birch panels, is a trip into the void. Unlike Barnett Newman’s zip paintings, which imply speed and a mystical state glimpsed through a sluice in a field of color, Winterreise 17- with its super-sized zip that is a vast black hole- implies stasis and existential questioning. This is a world in which heroic action is needed to confront the unknown.”
– Roberta Fallon, critic, artblog, ORDER(ED) exhibition catalog

“Mark Brown’s Winterreise is an incarnation of that word-music intersection, an intersection where the artist’s profound response to the music and poetry is transformed into a creative act of immense daring. To trust in the truth of Schubert’s Winterreise is to trust in the truth of art.”

– Dr. Janet I. Wasserman, Executive Director, Schubert Society of the USA

“Mark Brown steals the show with his subtly compelling abstract paintings… canvases with thick impastos and dripping paint eloquently express the act of painting. This emphasis on seductive, tactile surfaces results in dense, concentrated and powerful works…beautifully painted surfaces…held together by tightly composed geometric forms.”

“Mark Brown’s [painting] is exceptionally strong; a densely textured, painterly surface that has a great sense of movement and rhythm.”
– Linda Johnson Dougherty, Chief Curator, North Carolina Museum of Art

“…serious and disciplined, Mark Brown’s sober, architectural blocks of astutely adjusted color pulsate…”
– Katy Kline, Director, Bowdoin Museum of Art

“Mark Brown, one of the five artists in this show who have been in previous triennials, has a sure sense of pictorial composition. The rectangularly shaped notes of his sound architecture advance and recede through the layers and layers of paint put on with palette knife and paint brush. Drips relieve the rectilinearity, and the application of glazes alters the finish from matte to shiny. Some of the forms have a built-up edge which adds further surface variety. These stately paintings– sober-minded but soulful– ultimately exercise a seductive attraction. The care with which they have been constructed and the assured handling of color reflect a pleasure in their making that communicates itself to the viewer. …to appreciate the structural coherence and depth of feeling in these paintings.”
– Huston Paschal, Associate Curator of Modern Art, NC Museum of Art

“Mark Brown succeeds handily… The image might be best described as one of hostile geometry. It shows what looks like spiky panes of shattered glass in gray, black, ochre and fleshy pink. The image is clear and legible, and the thinned paint has been applied quickly on a slick surface that gives a feeling of definite purpose to the painting.”
– Steven Litt, critic, The Cleveland Plain Dealer

“…Brown presents paintings from the ongoing “Winterreisse” series, at first glance, an austere evocation of the Schubert song cycle from which it takes its name. A closer look yields increasing subtlety and feats of paint handling, which take one further into an introspective state of mind.”
“…The scale of these monochromatic paintings, executed only in white, black and gray, belies their intensity and power… …Brown magically explores subtle effects of paint – here, making it mimic birch bark, there, directing it into infinite, tiny rivulets. These paintings are also developing into commanding larger-scale works, evidenced with the triptych “Winterreise 31.”

– Michele Natale, critic, Raleigh News & Observer

“…the remarkable transformation that has occurred… all the elements in his painting are developed together into one synchronous and diverse structure. Multiple possibilities are tried, sorted out, covered over or found acceptable by the artist’s response to their perceptual effects…”
– Edwin Ruda, painter, New York, NY

“For my money, abstraction makes the biggest impact in this show, beginning with Mark Brown’s very impressive large geometric canvas …”
“Mark Brown’s [painting] is outstanding…”

– Blue Greenburg, critic, Durham Herald-Sun

“…It has been a pleasure to review your excellent production ….Very special to have an artist in North Carolina making such strong work.”
–Herb Jackson, painter, professor emeritus, winner of the North Carolina Award