Microbiologist-turned-artist Kelsey Brookes is currently transforming the white walls of the Library Street Collective with an array of bright hallucinations. These take the form of circular and rectangular painted compositions, popping with flowing, oozing, colorful abstract patterns, and brought together for “Kelsey Brookes: Sleep: The Science and the Mystery.” As the artist describes, his work is “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 all at the same time.” In this latest series, these three elements serve as inspiration (if not necessarily as subject matter) for his focused exploration of the beauty of molecular structure.
Working mostly in a large scale, he engulfs viewers in vast visions of the minute. In a circular, acrylic-on-wood painting titled, Samantha 9 (2014), concentric rings composed of multicolored, liquid-seeming squiggles and ribbons appear to radiate out from, or converge toward, a central starburst. Set against a blush-pink background, these hypnotic bands pull the eye into and across their rhythmic bends and folds. Tattered patches of churning, colorful patterns decorate the edges of Samantha 2 (2014), another of the artist’s circular compositions. The patterns seem to be in the process of creeping toward the painting’s bare, tan center, and we seem to be observing their growth as if through the eyepiece of a microscope. In his rectangular compositions, like Norepinephrine 2 and Histamine (both 2014), the wild forms of these two biochemical compounds spread luxuriously across the picture plane. Here, as in all of Brookes’ works, art meets science—and creates wonder.
May 4–8, 2018, Park Avenue Armory