A former biologist, Kelsey Brookes has shifted his focus to explosive, kaleidoscopic paintings that draw from his fascinations with microbiomes, plant life and molecular structures. Brookes states that “The brain and its product, the mind, are a fascinating subject; I question existence, both philosophically and scientifically, and because of my background, a good place to start my interrogation of life is through the material science of the brain.” Through both meditative abstraction and a conceptual examination of the hallucinogenic properties of certain molecules on the brain (LSD, mescaline, ritalin, MDMA to name a few), Brookes grounds his work in the relationship between consciousness and physicality. Such grounds are rife with possibilities for abstraction, but it is the connection his imagery has to scientific study that makes it so fascinating.
Each piece begins with a singular atom or molecule - a series of connected atoms - and from there grow into intricate and vibrating kaleidoscopic patterns. The artist finds his process to be extremely meditative, and discovered his signature style while taking a break from figurative work. The symbiosis of his physical practice, the psychological effect it has on him, and the resultant radiating aesthetic is not lost on Brookes, “I want to paint the edge of human consciousness.”
Brookes has had solo exhibitions in Detroit, La Jolla, Los Angeles, New York, London and Berlin. His work is included in private and public collections, including the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and the Frederick R. Weisman Foundation.
American, b. 1978, Denver, Colorado; based in San Diego, California
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