VULNERABILITY, PLEASURE, AND EMPATHY ARE IMPORTANT ELEMENTS OF A KENTUCKY-BASED ARTIST’S VIVID IMAGES
by Edward M. Gómez
The Kentucky-based artist John Brooks makes beguiling pictures that, like fleeting apparitions, seem to emerge out of the ether, all whispering color, knowing-gentle line, seductive-sexy charm, and generous, refreshing, hardworking light, light, light.
Brooks’s portraits seem to draw themselves as the plain, black outlines of his male subjects’ faces and figures effortlessly take shape, rallying a palette of economically employed pinks, purples, light blues and greens, and a recurring acid yellow that precisely model their merely mortal forms. Brooks’s make-it-look-easy line — a note about this kind of draftsmanship: it’s not that easy — and confident colors capture his subjects’ pensive, languid, or come-hither looks for posterity with a hint of the kind of veneration a portraitist is obliged to mix into his paints when conjuring up commissions for princes and potentates.
As it turns out, though, in their T-shirts, baggy sweatshorts, or nothing at all, his sitters tend to be the artist’s real-life friends and acquaintances or new pals he has made via social-media chats. With I See This Echoing, a solo exhibition that just ended, at the end of May, at March Gallery in New York, this relatively reserved artist, who maintains close ties to his native region, blasted onto the contemporary art scene with a body of work whose vitality, sincerity, and unabashed humanity probably struck many of the viewers who examined it in person as something of a welcome tonic for these dispiriting times.
to read the whole article.