KELSEY BROOKES – Caped Creatures

The American painter deals cheerfully with existential questions about sex, comedy and animals.

Berlin, October 2010 – Kelsey Brookes (1978) is a former biochemist who lives by the beach in San Diego, California. He attributes his raw art style to an education system “that refuses to teach scientists to draw.” He abandoned biochemistry and science’s loss became art’s gain. The works potency arguably lies in the way its clash of ancient and ultra-modern references downplay sex and death, which are featured heavily in the work. Brookes 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 all at the same time.”

Kelsey Brookes´ new works are loud, colourful and abstract. They are a psychedelic Noah’s Arc of half human, half animal chimeras he calls “Caped Creatures“. They remind us that we have not evolved as far from animals as we would like to think, as Brookes states: “We humans often like to think of ourselves as outside the animal kingdom, a step removed from all that fur and fury. By presenting the subjects as half human/half animal, they put us back in our rightful place amongst the animals, where we belong.“

The creatures become a framework from which the figures anatomy is experimented with. Parts of these chimeras are missing, exaggerated or abstracted beyond functional reality in an effort to relate to the viewer their intense character or predicaments. The “loosening” of the figure as well as the strong and unique interplay with abstract forms and text, increases the sense of awe and wonder found in Brookes´ signature style.

Brookes has been featured in numerous pop culture and design publications such as GQ, Modern Painters, Paper, Juxtapoz, Beautiful Decay, Dazed and Confused, Re:up and HUCK. The artist who is embraced by the California surf-scene has also teamed up with the likes of RVCA, VANS, and Insight 51 and furthermore worked for the band “Grand Ole Party”


Brookes on the effect of the creatures´ animal-like qualities on the viewer:

„Each animal has a different set of abilities and qualities. I have used different animals because of those different abilities to illustrate or evoke different responses from the viewer. But it´s better to approach these paintings as you would a piece of music, just open your eyes and feel. “

Brookes on the effect of the „Capes“:

„Capes are a good way to hide and they are also a good way to add dramatic value to any situation. Imagine yourself in any possible scenario, standing in line at the bank, going to the bathroom typing at a computer, then imagine yourself in that same situation with a cape on. Go ahead and try it….really. That is why I added capes.“

Brookes on his creative process and style:

„I am becoming more comfortable with my creative process and am trusting my instincts more and more. Less planning, more painting, less seatbelts and more colour. The paintings are looser and happen much faster. Parts of bodies are missing or exaggerated beyond functional reality in an effort to relate the intensity in the subject or figure. It´s a very honest practice. These are the most honest paintings I have ever made, these paintings look like my soul… If you cared to see that type of thing.“