Photo: Chase Cruz.

Kelsey Brookes

Born 1978, Denver. Lives and works in San Diego, CA.

Kelsey Brookes' art knows no bounds. His work as a painter—experimenting with pop, abstract and traditional elements—has spliced color and construct with a scientific understanding of modern biochemistry to create a new genre of painting that explores an alluring, meditative abstraction.

Brookes masterfully melds a deep knowledge of cognitive science and art to create bright, intensely detailed paintings that abstract drug compounds, molecules, atoms and hallucinogenic states to heighten a viewer’s sensory perceptions and reactions. His two main bodies of work—molecules and aesthetic abstractions—are created with a rigorous process of attentiveness. A process of focusing awareness on the paint that is lost from the brush as it is applied to the surface of the canvas, then refocusing attention as the mind wanders away; which provides visual evidence of both an artistic process and meditation in practice. Brookes’ molecular paintings begin as two-dimensional maps of the precise locations of individual atoms, molecular line drawings, which then expand and radiate out from these hyper detailed locations/focal points to cover the entire canvas surface. The result, but never the end result, is a colorful abstract representation of the subject molecule. Often, Brookes’ aesthetic abstractions are meticulously painted surfaces that are organically constructed or stretched to provide an overt aesthetic connection to Eastern contemplative traditions, such as Buddhism.

Brookes has had solo exhibitions in La Jolla, Los Angeles, New York, Detroit, London and Berlin. His work was featured as the cover art for the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ 2012 “I’m With You” 7” records and The Flaming Lips’ 2013 “Stone Roses” LP. Brookes has teamed up with RVCA, VANS, and Insight 51, among others for numerous projects. His paintings are featured in the publications SKULL STYLE: Skulls in Contemporary Art and Design and GO WEST!: Cutting-edge creative in the United States. KELSEY BROOKES: Psychedelic Space is the first monograph of the artist’s artwork and examines three years of work and four solo exhibitions. His work belongs in esteemed private collections, as well as the public permanent collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and the Frederick R. Weisman Foundation.