Modern Luxury Magazine

Great writeup written by Brandon Smith  in Modern Luxury Magazine. Here’s a link to the online version.

Surreal Sensation: Painter Scott G. Brooks

September 20, 2010


THE FOURTH DIMENSION: Painter Scott G. Brooks is a master of fantastic suggestion. From left: Rekindling conjures a dream world. We the People presents the comical inversion of a dream—part nightmare, part absurd hallucination.

Are you hallucinating, or is one DC artist’s work appearing in three lightning rod exhibitions right now?

After struggling to find an audience early in his career, 49-year-old Scott G. Brooks has been painting at a feverish pitch to prepare for three shows that will take him from his home in DC to Los Angeles and New York this October. “I just feel busy right now,” he says. “I’m having a good time.” Though one might not be so sure looking at the bizarre cast of characters in Brooks’ paintings, all coalescing like a snapshot from a strange dream.

The psychological dramas that play out in Brooks’ work are partly rooted in his childhood spent in the suburbs of Flint, Michigan, where he drew on sketch pads, paper bags—anything. He hunted and fished with his father who worked as a barber, while studying the detailed anatomy books his mother used in her job as a nurse.

“We grew up in a Catholic household so we went to church every Sunday. I think that was all pretty surreal,” he says. “My childhood was idyllic and all-American in one way, but I always was on the outside. That said, the underlying drama or narrative of my paintings is not necessarily about me.”

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the University of Michigan, Brooks moved to the DC area in 1990. He worked as an illustrator for children’s books and commercial projects while developing his own style. An early boost came from Artomatic, the giant volunteer-driven arts extravaganza that annually takes over an empty building in an up-and-coming neighborhood.

For his part, the artist recently moved into a new condo on Florida Ave., NW, where he takes photos of burlesque performers and friends to use as models for his paintings. Their kitsch costumes and improvised poses inspire his painterly figures of voluptuous women and sculpted men who resemble classical Greek ideals. But he tweaks their realistic images with eyes cast too far apart or slung below massive foreheads. The surreal result is both fascinating and unsettling.

Brooks’ DC solo show, We the People, opens at Long View Gallery on October 28 with paintings that explore political and religious themes including a comment on the dangers of blind faith. The show’s star features a nude messianic snake handler bathed in a cosmic glow surrounded by freakish admirers. “It’s about distortion,” Brooks says. “It’s about what is preventing us from seeing what is really going on.”

For his inaugural opening in L.A., Brooks painted his interpretation of the Judgment tarot card for the Lowbrow Tarot Project, which opens October 1 at the La Luz de Jesus Gallery. He also will be in a group show called The 13th Hour opening over the Halloween weekend at the edgy surrealist gallery Last Rites in New York. “I want my work to be challenging,” he says. “I don’t want to just create pretty pictures. There are enough people doing that.”