'Brazen' by Artist Kimberly Brooks

Kimberly Brooks is a Los Angeles-based painter and former arts editor at HuffPost (full disclosure: I contributed regularly to her section there). Today, her artwork blends figuration and abstraction to focus on subjects related to memory, reality, history, representation and identity. She has a new exhibition of paintings called “Brazen” opening on September 9 at the Zevitas Marcus Gallery in Los Angeles. I was pleased to interview her recently via email:

Brazen” is a new direction for you – less abstract and more figurative. What’s up with that?

I felt a change in direction on the horizon. I was thinking a lot about the act of painting in and of itself. But I still consider myself an abstract painter. It’s just that now the abstraction is within the paintings of paintings.

<em>Kimberly Brooks</em>
Kimberly Brooks

The intent of your work here?

I have been preoccupied with the act of looking and the desire for immortality. Our digital data feels so ephemeral– I have a stack of DVDs that I can no longer play because I no longer have a DVD player. What happened to all that art? I think painting and its immortal quality has taken on a new significance. I wanted to capture that. I think painting and its immortal quality has taken on a new significance. I wanted to capture that.

<em>Talitha, Kimberly Brooks</em>
Talitha, Kimberly Brooks

What do you want the viewer to walk away with?

I want the viewer to rediscover/ reconsider painting and experience a connection with a past future and future past.

Your inspiration?

Over several years I’m learning to trust my application of paint as a singular filter in and of itself. I paint in bursts and quickly so my mind doesn’t get in the way. I love “Lightness of Being” with the earthiness of the depicted wood and the lightness of implied gilded walls. I love “Hall of Eternity” for its understated meta elegance.

<em>Portrait Hall, Kimberly Brooks</em>
Portrait Hall, Kimberly Brooks

Challenges?

When I hit a roadblock on a painting I turn it around for weeks or months until I forgot about it. When I see it again I have abandoned it in my mind. Only if I broke up with it entirely did I have the courage to be super daring, knowing with every stroke that I was willing to lose the entire thing and paint it over if need be.

What does the title “Brazen” refer to?

I started this body of work right after the election. I kept hearing the word in my head as I listened to the radio, mostly aghast, while I made the work. I thought of the word “Brazen” as I approached the subject of what it means to paint and make art at all.

<em>Lightness of Being, Kimberly Brooks</em>
Lightness of Being, Kimberly Brooks

The paintings bring to mind Venice, Italy. Is that intentional?

I used gold and silver leaf for the first time and looked to iconic religious works for guidance and they inspired this collection. Many of the pieces were from Italy.

Tell me about the color palette you’ve chosen?

The more I paint the more sensitive I get to color. I like to create subtle shifts in temperature instead of introducing too many colors. In this sense the work is more subtle.

For more, go here.

J. Michael Welton writes about architecture, art and design for national and international publications, and is architecture critic for The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. He edits a digital design magazine at www.architectsandartisans.com,, where portions of this column first appeared, and is the author of “Drawing from Practice: Architects and the Meaning of Freehand“ (Routledge: 2015). He can be reached at mike@architectsandartisans.com. Follow him on Twitter at: @mikewelton

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