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Room Tone: Kimberly Brooks at Zevitas Marcus

Kimberly Brooks, Portrait Hall, 36”x44”, oil on linen, 2017, courtesy of Zevitas Marcus

Brazen
by Kimberly Brooks
September 9-October 28, 2017
Zevitas Marcus
2754 S La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, California, 90034

By DANIEL MAIDMAN, OCT. 2017

When I was in film school, before the millennium, we were instructed always to reserve some time at the end of shooting in each room. During this time, we were to record several minutes of silence in the room. This “room tone” could then be seamlessly woven in wherever sound editing called for dialogue shot in that space to pause. 

The point of room tone was that the ear can hear a mismatch if two different silences are welded together in the editing. No two silences are alike. Silence is full of timbre. Each room has a personality which comes to the fore in the quiet that falls after its occupants have left.

This concept comes to mind when considering many of the paintings in Kimberly Brooks’s solo show Brazen, at Zevitas Marcus in Los Angeles.

Painting is sight, but some painters naturally summon other senses in service of their imagery. Brooks summons sound, and yet she does not imply noises. She is a painter of silence, of the full, textured silence of room tone. The rooms she depicts are stately and filled with luxurious objects. People have perpetually just vacated them. Their conversations or laughter have fallen away. There is a stuffy close quality to the air. It is trapped and moves only in tiny currents. The personality of these rooms comes into focus now that they are empty.

Consider Wall of Delight.

Kimberly Brooks, Wall of Delight, 44”x36”, oil on linen, 2017, courtesy of Zevitas Marcus

Who is not familiar with this sense of pattern, this distribution of Rococo decorative elements? And yet, now that their owners have gone, and they serve no purpose, their sharp details fall away. They liquefy, as if drifting toward a more native design and purpose, a secret ecology of aristocratic rooms. They have their own lives, which generate tiny fragments of noise, texturing the silence until it brims with an eerie vitality.

Kimberly Brooks, Near and Far, 20”x16”, oil, gold and silver leaf on linen, 2017, courtesy of Zevitas Marcus

There is something so terribly melancholy to this, to these spaces in which we crave to catch lives, drama, recognizable humanity. Brooks’s scenes take place when all that is over, and spaces and objects grope toward a new life unmoored from their ancient servitudes.

A second but related body of work is included in this show, a peculiar set of icon-like paintings.

Kimberly Brooks, Angel/Mother/Goddess, 60”x48”, oil on linen, 2017, courtesy of Zevitas Marcus

We see the same elision of detail here, the same aggressive and confident use of hard-edged thick brushwork to create a simplified image. When applied to the figure and the religious tableau, Brooks’s system of omission allows her to escape the trap which undoes most modern icons: the incompatibility of modern psychological interiority with the unambivalent religious force demanded of an icon.

In a modern sense, Brooks’s work is inhumanly detached. She denies us any information about the interiority of her figures, and complimentarily denies herself the ability to express her psychological point of view – her modern “self.” And yet, she gains something profound from this sacrifice. Her icons leave the territory of the artistic, and take on the irresistible completeness of artifacts. We cannot enter them in a casual and everyday way, because they are semi-legible products of a people and a way of life with an uncorrupted faith we can scarcely conceive of any longer. They make the leap from artistry to magic. WM

Kimberly Brooks, Gods and Mountains, 60”x48”, oil on linen, 2017, courtesy of Zevitas Marcus

 

Daniel Maidman

Daniel Maidman is a painter and writer. His art is included in the permanent collections of the Library of Congress, the New Britain Museum of American Art, and the Long Beach Museum of Art, as well as numerous private collections, among them those of New York Magazine senior art critic Jerry Saltz, Chicago collector Howard Tullman, Disney senior vice president Jackson George, and Gemini-winning screenwriter Jeremy Boxen. He has produced paintings in collaboration with best-selling novelist China Miéville, award-winning poet Kathleen Rooney, independent film icon Martin Donovan, and noted installation artist Erika Johnson. Maidman’s art and writing on art have been featured in ARTnews, Forbes, Juxtapoz, Whitehot Magazine, Hyperallergic, American Art Collector, International Artist, Poets/Artists, MAKE, Manifest, and The Artist’s Magazine. He blogs for The Huffington Post. He lives and paints in Brooklyn, New York.

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