The French would call it "l'art pour l'art," in English, "art for art's sake". Kelsey Brookes' Bigger, Brighter, Bolder exhibit, debuting at the Quint Contemporary Art in La Jolla, CA on November 20, was created, as Brookes explains, for its own sake. However, he does pull inspiration from specific sources, both spiritual and historical. Brookes, who was trained in science, carefully weaves a tapestry of works around his viewers, blanketing them in a world of controlled chaos. Each line is straight and meticulously drawn, each paint splatter is forced and purposeful, and each splatter, no matter how small, has a face drawn on it. This tapestry is much like the rustic American quilts that inspired Brookes' color pallet and is like the huge, mandalas found in Hindu and Buddhist holy places. There is no particular meaning, Brookes says, behind the hot pop-y pink whisps of color that create fierce auras around his painted female figures, abstract forms and random texts. Hot pink is simply the color that Brookes used. Most of the reasons Bookes gives for creating a piece is because he "thought it looks good." For example, Brookes found a particular muted red paint in a shop in Japan and he said to himself, "I gotta have that." Since then he has replicated and incorporated that color into numerous works.
"Whenever I hear an interesting word, maybe something my grandparents would say, like 'gobledigook', I'll write it down in my notebook full of words. Those words make it into my paintings," said Brookes. One painting titled "Tiger, Tiger" pieces together the text of "The Tyger" by English poet William Blake. Another painting is decorated with a slough of "Street Terms for drugs" he found on a police website.
Like most l'art pour l'art, Brookes' works walk the line of the absurd, surrealist realm. Opening night of his Quint show, Brookes had The Dabbers, a band consisting of one bass and one drum kit, and Lion Cut, who played even less traditionally with an iPod and a violin while clad in large feline outfits, play throughout the night for a happy hipster crowd: free beer in one hand, cigarette in the other and extremely entertaining art show to enjoy. Why did Brookes choose these particular bands? Perhaps for their pop ties with the hot pink of his works? Nope. The entire night was crafted without any particular purpose in mind, said Brookes with a grin, "I just like them." Bigger, Brighter, Bolder will be showcased Quint Contemporary Art until January 16th.
Photos by Michael Spear.