Caught between fact and fiction: Mercedes-Benz Mixed Tape cover artist Kelsey Brookes explores the tenuous, yet evocative link between science, surfing and the world of art
Kelsey Brookes loves contrasts and extremes – a dichotomy not only reflected in his acid-infused outsize paintings, but also a radical shift in profession. Born and raised in Denver, Colorado, and spellbound by nature in all its shapes and guises, Brookes started out as a biology graduate, but soon decided to swap the white coat for some laid-back beach front attire – and California’s art and surf scene.
To Brookes this self-imposed shift from science lab to studio, this radical cut in reality, made eminent sense: After all, both science and spiritual creativity share a common goal – to expose what’s hidden in the world around us. As part of this pursuit of (self-) discovery, Brookes even spent two years in Australia, living out of his car, to surf the crest of perfect waves and his own evolving perception – in ultimate proximity to nature and immersed in its raw aesthetics.
Now, this balance between analytic approach, ordered lines, nature’s immediacy and the pure physicality of dynamic waves suffuses the artist’s entire work. Here, surreal beings join jutting lines and bold brush strokes in a hypnotic, neon-tempered swirl of colour that threatens to rewire our unsuspecting brains. Drawing on Far Eastern deities, exotic fauna and raw sensuality, Brookes couches these markers in an exploding exploration of nature and geometry. Self-contained ecosystems of artistic expression, these works reflect Brookes’ ongoing fascination with art and science, life and philosophy, complex contemplation and visceral experience.
Celebrated around the globe, Brookes now takes his art to the world – and a little bit of the world back home with him. Last year, when an exhibition took him to Berlin’s Circle Culture gallery for two months, he decided to explore the city by bike and immerse himself in street-level living. Right now, he finds himself working towards yet another landmark show, held at London’s Lazarides Gallery in November, to expand his oeuvre by a range of prints and sculptural works.
No matter his outlet or approach, Brookes invariably seduces his audience with plenty of laid-back wit and charm. But judge for yourselves: Visiting his studio, we got to spend a day with the charismatic American artist. So, join us for a brief audiovisual tour and trip to find out why his dog pays rent and why surfing helps to let it all go.
Director, DoP, Editor: Nicolas Doldinger
Music: “Black Rain” - Mattson 2
From the latest Mercedes-Benz Mixed Tape Compilation
“Over to You” – Hip Nothings
“The Clown on the 2nd Floor” – Peter Cat Recording Co.
“The Hard Way In” – Panda Bear Jones