Marlborough Contemporary

Jason Brooks: Origins 10 June - 18 July 2015

Marlborough Contemporary is pleased to announce Origins, an exhibition of new works by Jason Brooks.

Seven apparently abstract paintings reveal an unexpectedly tactile experience of viewing paint. The works, each identical in size and orientation, differ in their individual spectrums of strong, sometimes garish, colours that swirl, overlap and accumulate in the creation of a new visceral, yet highly analytical, style. Paint drips onto the exposed sides of the canvases, to make transparent the process of rendering faultless illusion, revealing what Michael Bracewell has called ‘the object residue of an addiction to process, in which process conflates desire, satiation, surface, tension, release and texture.’

This attempt to escape complicity with historical tradition betrays a complicated relationship with the canon. Brooks refers to Courbet’s ‘The Origins of the World’ (1866) in the making of this series, putting into practice the desire to repaint and rework painting; a consistent theme in his works. Brooks seeks to escape a linear relationship with this history by yielding up control of his source material.  In this way the works do not present one single perspective, but bring others’ subjective desires of form and colour into his field of vision.

Brooks’ collaborators provide source material, working with paint in colour and form which are completely outside of the artist’s control. The ‘sitter’ is no longer passively observed, but their body becomes their own canvas, to be repainted and reinterpreted in turn by the artist. As with the work by Courbet, the field of vision is cropped so that identifying features of each model are not the focal points of the paintings. Brooks then meticulously recreates their blind abstractions in what he has described as the ‘closest he has come to a discussion with abstract art.’ Indeed, the paintings are not abstract at all, as they are complex reworkings of the abstract forms offered to him; realist paintings of abstract sources.

The works invite the viewer to ask whether knowledge of a work’s origin should ever change its meaning and whether a purely aesthetic relationship with the form of art is possible. A central paradox in Brooks’ works – the love of painting and our desire for the materiality of paint - is denied meaning by a technique that itself questions whether process itself should ever be allowed to become the subject of the painting. The paintings open up a dialogue about how illusion in painting is formed and how we as viewers engage with that illusion.

A monograph written by Michael Bracewell, exploring the past twenty years of Brooks’ work, will be published by Black Dog Publishing to coincide with the exhibition.

Origins continues at Marlborough Contemporary until 18 July 2015.

Jason Brooks (b. 1968) is closely associated with the generation of artists who emerged in Britain in the early nineties to great international acclaim. Previous exhibitions include a solo exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery (2008) and key exhibitions including 'New Neurotic Realism' (1998) and 'I am a Camera' (2001).

Brooks is known for images which intensify the portraiture process more than any photographic medium. His recent work explores old masterpieces and anonymous found paintings, adopting the same techniques, reworking anonymous found paintings that he reworks, crops and repaints. It is a way of looking at art history through the eyes of others who have looked at art history. On a very simple level it affirms the continued faith that painters retain in the medium.

Brooks lives and works in London.

Jason Brooks, Origin I, 2015
Acrylic on canvas
125 x 176 cm
Courtesy the artist and Marlborough Contemporary
Photo: Francis Ware

Jason Brooks, Origin I (detail), 2015
Acrylic on canvas
125 x 176 cm
Courtesy the artist and Marlborough Contemporary
Photo: Francis Ware

Jason Brooks, Origin I (Test), 2015
Acrylic and graphite on paper
76.4 x 57.5 cm
Courtesy the artist and Marlborough Contemporary
Photo: Francis Ware

Jason Brooks, Origin II, 2015
Acrylic on canvas
125 x 176 cm
Courtesy the artist and Marlborough Contemporary
Photo: Francis Ware

Jason Brooks, Origin II (detail), 2015
Acrylic on canvas
125 x 176 cm
Courtesy the artist and Marlborough Contemporary
Photo: Francis Ware

Jason Brooks, Origin II (Test), 2015
Acrylic and graphite on paper
76.5 x 57.5 cm
Courtesy the artist and Marlborough Contemporary
Photo: Francis Ware

Studio View. Origin VII and Origin VIII in progress
Courtesy the artist and Marlborough Contemporary
Photo: Francis Ware