ARTSCENE: REVIEW Brazen

artscenelogo by Andy Brumer

Los Angeles-based artist Kimberly Brooks offers a strong showing of mostly oil on linen paintings. The title of the show, “Brazen,” offers a an insightful clue to its contents. Brooks spoke to this writer of the need she felt to move her paintings in a new direction. Towards that end she took leave of (for now, at least) the style of landscape paintings and figurative works (of mostly fashionably attired women), as well as the emotionally charged symbolic colors with which she painted them, and for which she has used exuberantly in previous work.

"Talitha" Oil on Linen 2017

“Talitha” Oil on Linen 2017

Using the word “Brazen” as a  mantra to free her paint brush to wander where it would, allowing the paintings to find new shapes, feelings and themes, the artist set to work. This rather extensive exhibition of large and small works attests to the fact that she met, if not exceeded her goal. It’s not that the figure and the landscape subjects of earlier paintings have vanished, far from it. Rather Brooks this time coaxes forth their visual DNA in a different manner.

Take, for example, the face-on portrait titled “Talitha.” Whereas previously Brooks would infuse her portraits of women with a blend of sultriness and luscious full-bodied curves, she now presents “Talitha” with a thoroughly flat, austere and almost featureless visage. The artist sets the face in an oval of sky blue reminiscent of a Victorian era pin or brooch that augments the piece’s sense of restraint. The painting’s primitive style adds an element of flourish and relief. A geometrically complex patchwork garment clings tight against the figure’s chest and neck.

Kimberly Brooks 'Blue Forest' Oil on lInen 2017

Kimberly Brooks ‘Blue Forest’ Oil on lInen 2017

This relative restraint finds its free-wheeling, sensual counterpart in a dreamy landscape painting titled “Blue Forest.” Here the artist uses a muted palette of earthy browns, yellows, greenish tans and pinks that run ubiquitously through this show, in this work to configure a dreamscape of plants, tree limbs and other organic forms. The bottom half of the painting presents a row of brighter red shapes that both pop forward visually and dot the canvas with a breezy grace.

"Gods and Mountains" Oil on Linen 2017

“Gods and Mountains” Oil on Linen 2017

Brooks’ undergraduate training in Literature (at UC Berkeley) makes itself known in this show as well. For example, in the narrative approach to “Gods and Mountains,” a group of angular El Greco-like figures kneel and huddle under a ray of teeming expressionist brushstrokes that pour out of a rather Old Testament looking cloud capping a mountain. “Angel/Mother/Goddess” then shifts into more of a New Testament mode, with a Virgin Mary-like figure spreading cloaked wings to embrace a flock of daubed cream-colored faces that have snuggled safely within their span.

"Portrait Hall", Oill on linen 2017

“Portrait Hall”, Oill on linen 2017

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“Portrait Hall” is a slightly eccentric rendering of a Baroque, Palace of Versailles-like interior that introduces an architectural motif that relates most readily to Brooks’ previous style. However, rather than plumb straight corners and realistically rendered walls, this room shimmers in and out of focus in a kind of fun-house buzz. Loosely stroked and smudgy images of tall portrait paintings hang from the walls and add a note of hilarity to this highly skilled painting.

While Brooks may have corralled her muse’s willpower to produce these works, the paintings themselves in the manner in which they nourish the eye and nurture the soul feel anything but audacious, this is to say “brazen” at all.

CURRENT EXHIBITION: New Paintings by KIMBERLY BROOKS “Brazen” Zevitas Marcus 2754 S. LA Cienega Blvd.

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Kimberly Brooks 'Blue Forest' Oil on lInen 44 x 36

Kimberly Brooks ‘Blue Forest’ Oil on lInen 44 x 36

On View:  September 9 – October 28, 2017
Opening Reception:  Saturday, September 9, 2017 from 5 – 8pm

Los Angeles, CA – Zevitas Marcus is pleased to present Brazen, a solo exhibition of oil paintings by Los Angeles-based artist Kimberly Brooks. The exhibition will run from September 9 through Oct 21, 2017 with an opening reception Saturday, Sept 9, 2017 5:00 – 8:00 PM.

Kimberly Brooks’ constructs scenes with singular gestures, marauding imagery of recognizable historical contexts to manifest something entirely new. Her work brings together traditional subject matter – the figure, landscape, interiors and still-life – with her own personal experiences to form a deft fusion of contemporary and historical concerns.

There has always been a palpable tension between abstraction and representation in Brooks’ work. Her most recent paintings veer ever more aggressively towards abstraction, which is used as a divide between experiencing the materiality of a particular history (Museum Wall) and falling inside the frame to experience the history at the time of depiction (Blue Angels).

While the work included in Brazen all arrives from recognizable source material, Brooks is less interested in reportage than she is in the ability of paint to directly conjure meaning. To this end, religious icons, grand interiors and ornamentation are all purposefully untethered from their traditional functions and allowed to embody a greater range of meaning within our contemporary culture. In Talitha, stark Joan of Arc hair and a sumptuous collar remain as the greatest signifiers of a faded princess. The facial details have fallen vague, effectively encouraging an audience to project their own narratives onto what is left behind. Brooks work is ultimately concerned with how painters see and process the visual remnants of history.

KIMBERLY BROOKS
Kimberly Brooks graduated from UC Berkeley in Literature and worked as a writer before exchanging the pen for the brush. Brooks studied Painting at UCLA and OTIS.  Her work has been showcased in numerous juried exhibitions including curators from Whitney Museum of American Art, Museum of Modern Art, California Institute of the Arts and Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Brooks lives and works in Los Angeles. This is her first solo exhibition with Zevitas Marcus.

ZEVITAS MARCUS
Opened in September of 2015, Zevitas Marcus is a contemporary art gallery founded by Steven Zevitas and Richard Marcus located in the heart of Los Angeles’ gallery district, Culver City.  www.zevitasmarcus.com

Kimberly Brooks Receives Teaching Excellence Award at OTIS

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Los Angeles- Otis College of Art and Design has awarded Kimberly Brooks The Franklin Leigel Award for Teaching Excellence and made her the award’s first recipient. The award was created in the late beloved teacher’s honor after he passed in 2012.

Kimberly Brooks, a was a student of Mr. Leigel’s in the late 1990s and 2000s and brings many of the lessons and practices to her painting classes.  Franklyn Leigel was famous for encouraging students to build grounds as foundations on the canvas and which Kimberly Brooks has incorporated and refined in her teaching today.

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Franklyn Leigel taught painting at Otis for over twenty years. He built his reputation exhibiting internationally in exhibitions over thirty years and was a graduate of the OTIS MFA program.

“I am doubly honored to receive this award as Franklyn Leigel was also my mentor when I first came to Los Angeles and study Painting. His instruction style was passionate and elliptical. After an hour lecture about the importance of grounds and then he would walk around the room and react to each student’s painting in progress.  He would stare for a long time, with the intensity of a doctor deciphering a symptom, and then surprise us with advice we often couldn’t anticipate.  Paint her hair blue.  Get rid of him altogether.  Consider yellow ochre. You need a pattern.  Glaze the whole thing with pthalo green and then decide. Sometimes he was gentle, other times he hollered in a kind of exasperated despair.  After an outburst, he would recoil so deeply that the students often felt the need to soothe him lest he think he offended one of us but he never did. In fact we loved and craved his astute yet unpredictable opinions.”
– Kimberly Brooks

LEONARDO’S BRAIN Available in Paper Back

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Leonado’s Brain: Understanding Da Vinci’s Creative Genius is now available in paperback. You can get it here

We also wanted to share highlights from the reviews and the book tour since its publication.

Leonardo’s Brain, The Future of the Brain, Dodging Extinction, and Arrival of the Fittest

Leonardo’s Brain: What a Posthumous Brain Scan Six Centuries Later Reveals about the Source of Da Vinci’s Creativity 

The Original Renaissance Man and His Brain by Professor John Seed

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 2min video from the book tour.

Clockwise from left: Kimberly Brooks, Jordan Shlain, Tiffany Shlain