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— Biography of Mike Brown

Mike Brown was a unique leader of alternative avant guard art in Australia, and a true bohemian eccentric.  An artistic anarchist and polemicist, during his 30 year career he waged an unwavering war on art world conventions and sensibilities, critiquing mass culture, consumerism, sex, advertising, censorship, and embracing counterculture, alternative lifestyles and socialism.

Brown first made his mark in 1962 when he exhibited, together with Ross Crothall and Colin Lanceley as The Annandale Imitation Realists, an unprecedented walk-in installation of sculpture, collage, ephemeral and assemblage work.  This was closely followed by the public controversy surrounding his infamous work Mary Lou as Miss Universe and his ‘Kite’ indictment of The Sydney Twelve.  In 1965 Brown became the only Australian artist ever to be prosecuted for obscenity, and scandals would continue even after his death in Western Australia. 

During his lifetime, Brown produced a wide variety of work, including naïve landscapes, pattern based abstraction, pop and text paintings, found object assemblages, graffiti style installations (notably his 1969 mural in the Heide I dining room), collage (notably his Hard Fast and Deep pornographic series), performance art and computer produced digital prints (notably his Power to the People banner hung at the NGV during his second retrospective).

Born in Sydney, Brown moved to Melbourne in 1968 where we lived and worked in the northern suburbs till his death by cancer in 1997.  He was an introverted man of few words; the exact opposite to his explosive art.

“What-the-hell are you people doing in an art-gallery anyway?? If you’re looking for art, you won’t find it here. You might as well hope to find religion in a church, health in a pill-bottle, youth in a jar of cosmetics, or true-love in a brothel.” Mike Brown, 1972

“No Australian artist has intervened in the critical and economic discourse of Australian art to the extent that Brown has done, and he did so in ways that were often totally unacceptable to many of his contemporaries.” Richard Haese, 2011

Major Publication:
Richard Haese, Permantent Revolution - Mike Brown and the Australian Avant Garde 1953-1997, Meigunyah Press, 2011

Read the obituary written by Charles Nodrum for Art Monthly in 1997.

Mike Brown CV

Since its establishment in 1984, the Charles Nodrum Gallery’s exhibition program embraces a diversity of media and styles - from painting, sculpture & works on paper to graphics and photography; from figurative, geometric, gestural, surrealist & social comment to installation & conceptually based work.