"Brian Brooks has been exhibiting internationally since the 1970's with work held in private and public collections throughout Europe, the USA and Latin America. Brian has a natural talent for translating the visual world onto a two-dimensional picture plane. Utilising digital technology and computer software, his paintings use photography as a point of reference rather than a tool for direct imitation. His integral understanding of colour and perspective equals his command for pattern and repetition with an elegant and refined painting technique."
Visual Arts Manager, Curator and Exhibition Organiser
PA to Director of Tate Modern Gallery
There are three identifiable strands to my artistic practice:
The first consists of colour studies, usually expressed as works on paper to be followed up as works on canvas or linen. These works tend to begin as theories, with a certain amount of calculation, experiment and trial-and-error. This area of work also includes the graphic representations of the colour palettes used in strands two and three.
The second strand addresses possibilities of fragmentation and the simplifying of images into their underlying colours and structures. There is often an inherent playfulness to these works, although they address questions of relativity, luminosity, advancement and recession in pigments.
The third area is the culmination of the previous two, using the building blocks of the colour studies, along with the simplified images, to create paintings with an intensity of approach and in-depth study of the inherent structures, layering and characteristics of an image.
Brian Martin Brooks
‘Liminal – relating to a transitional or initial stage of a process.
Occupying a position at, or both sides of, a boundary or threshold.’
(The Oxford English Dictionary).
I began this project for a number of inter-related reasons - some practical with others philosophical.
As an artist, one finds that rather than progress being linear, it tends instead towards the cyclical. I actually began exploring the ideas for this series whilst living with my family in Kent, in the South of England, between 2001 and 2006. Opening the curtains could reveal nature or the man-made urban environment. Closed curtains would always harbour a sense of expectation for what they would reveal on being opened.
To address the practical questions for this project first, I have spent a number of years searching for a link between the on-going colour studies and the resolved, objective oil on canvas/linen paintings. In this respect, the ‘Curtain’ series explores an area between objective and non-objective. I’ve always felt that the colour studies are a necessary preamble to the better understanding of colour mixing and relativity, light/shadow, advancement/recession along with dealing with questions of creating an illusion of three-dimensionality, as opposed to interpretations of the intrinsically ‘flat’ photograph.
In this respect, the curtain series is a first celebration of finding what I might term the ‘missing link’.
Another question I wanted to resolve was the possibility of working to a minimalist format, along with the exploration of a variety of inter-related mediums – in this case graphite, colour pencil, watercolour and oil on canvas. This series also opens up possibilities of printmaking. In order to address the minimalist question, I decided to work with a single image, rather than inter-related images, exploring a range of colour and grey-scale possibilities.
Moving on to more philosophical questions, the more I thought about this project and subject matter, the more I realised the inherent meanings in the image itself.
Curtains are a paradigm for beginnings and endings – of a light cycle, for example – opening curtains at the onset of morning, and closing them as the light fades. There is, perhaps, a parallel with the beginnings and endings of life.
Curtains both hide and reveal – pertinent, therefore, for the visual artist, in that the images an artist chooses to work with are thus revealed to the viewer, having gone through a process of investigation, filtration, manipulation and editing.
Certain ironies are manifest in this series. One encounters the perennial dilemma of the interior designer: whether to choose the décor to ‘match’ the artwork or vice-versa? The artist draws a curtain, while the final piece may be whimsically titled ‘the final curtain’. The placing of a painting of a pair of curtains on a wall could give the impression of a ‘window’ behind them.
The choice of colours for this series is potentially practically limitless, but I have narrowed these possibilities down to the basics of colour separation found both in printing and light.
This series is based on a simple algorithm. An algorithm is a procedure or formula for solving a problem. The word derives from the name of the mathematician, Mohammed ibn-Musa al-Khwarizmi, who was part of the royal court in Baghdad and who lived from about 780 to 850. Al-Khwarizmi's work is also the likely source for the word algebra.
A computer program can be viewed as an elaborate algorithm. In mathematics and computer science, an algorithm usually means a small procedure that solves a recurrent problem.
With this series of studies, I use a system of (3,2,1 / 1,2,3) limiting myself to three colours for each drawing. I am unable to predict the visual outcomes without carrying out the studies, which are completed in colour pencil, watercolour or gouache on paper. The results will then be scaled up into larger paintings rendered in acrylic on primed linen.
Study 1: Three Colours (Red) (Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Red, Scarlet): The use of three colours, as in this example, produces a colour shift by one factor. In this instance, alizarin crimson (the first colour) begins the sequence, but cadmium red (the second colour) completes it. As one colour decreases in frequency, the following colour increases, producing an overlap. For how long would the cycle need to be repeated before being able to end with the first colour?
Study for ‘Three Colours (Red)’ – colour pencil on paper – 127 x 277 mm.
Study for ‘Three Colours (Orange)’ – colour pencil on paper – 127 x 277 mm.
Study for ‘Three Colours (Yellow)’ – colour pencil on paper – 127 x 277 mm.
Study for ‘Three Colours (Green)’ – colour pencil on paper – 127 x 277 mm.
Study for ‘Three Colours (Blue)’ – colour pencil on paper – 127 x 277 mm.
Study for ‘Three Colours (Violet)’ colour pencil on paper – 127 x 277 mm.