Figurative Art

Kelsey Brookes /   Kelsey Ross Brookes

United States 1976

Kelsey Brookes
Kelsey Ross Brookes
United States
November 30, 2014
Ok, I know it's so damn corny to quote somebody just to describe yourself, let alone Confucius, but this quote says all about my relationship with Widewalls, so forgive me for doing this: Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. Am I forgiven?

Kelsey Brookes is an American artist who left the science industry to pursue a full-time career in art. He began to develop a unique style of figurative art.

Brooks was a biochemist who attributes his raw style to an education system “that refuses to teach scientists to draw”. He abandoned biochemistry because he thought he was going to be there for a few months to get himself some money. Three years later Brooks was left wondering if he had become what he always despised – the funny guy at the water cooler … except not so funny “I was the confused not so funny guy at the water cooler.”

Science’s loss is art’s gain and Kelsey’s powerful canvasses attract due attention whenever they’re shown, be it in California, London or Europe. The work’s potency arguably lies in the way its clash of ancient and ultra-modern references even drown out the sex and death which also features heavily. He describes his art as “an unrefined and some would say unskilled mix of sex, comedy and animals which is derived from a true passion for all three, except not necessarily at the same time.

Kelsey’s figurative paintings draw influence from Hindu and Buddhist deities, exotic animals and sex, as well as rustic American quilts. Each figure is adorned with ghostly representations of the natural world… Animals and plants that unfold from the body into the surrounding canvas. His chimeras are frozen with animalistic intensity in explosive and sometimes tortured positions. He said that “most of my influence comes from a desire of beautiful women (me and every other bi-pedal ape with a twig and two berries hanging between his legs), a childhood love of the discovery channel, and a more recent interest in Hindu Folk art. Funny how when that all comes together it looks like pop.”

In Brooke’s works called “Better Living through Chemistry” from his background in molecular biology, he has taken his knowledge of scientific images & expanded them into extremely intricate paintings that explore the mutability of human consciousness. His painstaking process involves the painting of hundreds of concentric shapes that are both psychedelic & grounded in empiricism.

Explaining his starting point, Brookes says; “Art & science are often, & in my view incorrectly, seen as two opposing poles of a creative continuum. This is a misunderstanding of both. My recent work is a combination of my scientific background & current artistic interest- I have taken my understanding of molecular biology & married it with painting.”

Kelsey Brookes is an artist of contrasts. His well-documented background in microbiology, surf culture and folk art combine in explosive prisms of raucous color, bold imagery and timeless motifs. Raw and un-tethered, his vibrant, mixed-media assemblages reveal a free-flowing aesthetic that’s altogether energetic, sexual and humorous. Each work is a microcosm of life itself, where smiley-faced characters and wild animals cavort with abstract forms and splices of color to form something infinitely complex and visually joyful.

Kelsey Brookes lives and works in San Diego, California.

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group 
2014Dazed & ConfusedEric Firestone Gallery, East Hampton, NYGroup
2013Kelsey Brookes - Better Living Through ChemistryJudith Charles Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
2012Meditations on SymmetryMalibu, CASolo
2011The Future Is Not What It Used To BeLeBasse Projects, Culver City, CAGroup
2011Personal EffectsGallery Aferro, Newark, NJGroup
2011Paper WorksCircleculture Gallery - Berlin, BerlinGroup
2011Nothing To SayGuerrero Gallery, San Francisco, CAGroup
2010Caped CreaturesCircleculture Gallery - Berlin, BerlinSolo
201010th Anniversary Fecal Face group show The Luggage Store, San Francisco, CAGroup
2010Come As You ArePrism, West Hollywood, CAGroup
2010Total EclipseNew Image Art Gallery, West Hollywood, CAGroup
2010Le Salon Du Cercle De La Culture A BerlinCircleculture Gallery - Berlin, BerlinGroup
2010Here Not There: San Diego Art NowMuseum of Contemporary Art San Diego - MCASD La Jolla, La Jolla, CAGroup
2010April Group ShowGuerrero Gallery, San Francisco, CAGroup
2009Kelsey Brookes – BIGGER, BRIGHTER, BOLDERQuint Gallery, La Jolla, CASolo
2009Grifters showLazarides Gallery, LondonGroup
2009Three Decades of Contemporary ArtQuint Gallery, La Jolla, CAGroup
2009Homing In : An Exhibition of 50 San Diego ArtistQuint Gallery, La Jolla, CAGroup
2008TrailblazersBoutwell Draper Gallery, Sydney, NSWGroup
2008Kelsey BrookesNew Image Gallery, Los Angeles, CASolo
2008Kids TodaySemi Permanent Conference,, Sydney, AUGroup
2008Poster Renaissance 2New Image Art, Los Angeles, USAGroup
2007Supernumerary — New Paintings And Prints By Kelsey BrookesMilieu, BernSolo
2007SupernumeraryMilieu Galerie/Artspace, Bern, CHSolo
2007Santa's GhettoPictures on Walls, Bethlehem, PalestineGroup
2007Replace 'Please' with Fast & 'Thank you' with GoodLab 101, Los Angeles, USAGroup
2007Aqua Art Miami @ Art BaselNew Image Art Gallery, Miami, USAGroup
2007BrodeoNew Image Art Gallery, Los Angeles, USAGroup
2007Ten Years After…Colette, Paris, FRGroup
2007The Return of SanityAndenken Gallery, Denver, USAGroup
2006Santa's GhettoPictures on Walls, London, UKGroup
2006The 125th Anniversary of the InternetFecal Face, Black Market Gallery, Los Angeles, USAGroup
2006TNT Inside-OutMuseum of Contemporary Art San Diego, San Diego, USAGroup
2006StenchLazarides Gallery, London, UKGroup
2005Santa's GhettoPictures on Walls, London, UKGroup