On Saturday, August 22nd, downtown Los Angeles’ Corey Helford Gallery will proudly unveil a solo exhibition from Ontario, Canada-based contemporary surrealist painter Troy Brooks, entitled Through A Glass Darkly, in Gallery 3.
Known for his surrealistic portraits of elongated women and influenced by a mixture of classic Hollywood imagery and ancient mythology, the glamorous women that Brooks paints are eerily seductive and intensely emotional. Brooks’ impact on the pop-surrealist movement is widely recognized, exhibiting work in Canada, the U.S. and Europe. Says The Globe and Mail, “…Brooks’ gender-questionable, powdery oil paintings of pin-thin (and pinch-faced) ‘ladies,’ malicious matrons who appear to have walked out of an Edward Gorey illustration after raiding Johnny Depp’s Alice In Wonderland costume rack.”
Brooks shares about the path he took to completing his new series and what influenced him: “Besides female characters being the eternal protagonist in my work, another central component has always been the dazzling glamour and grandeur of old Hollywood. From the world-weary vamps of the silent era to the elegant clothes horses of the 30’s, to the square shouldered career woman of war-time women’s pictures, these personas monopolized my imagination. I picked up a rabid interest in classic cinema at a very early age, spending hours in the local library sketching ghostly actresses from 5 lb classic cinema photography books. The first old film I remember seeing at 4 years old was Whatever Happened To Baby Jane, a gothic tragedy that haunted me with its twisted decayed glamour. It would ultimately have an enormous impact on my creative tone.
In March of 2019, I was all set to begin work on a series, titled Bloom, which was supposed to be my 2020 solo exhibition. I’d planned bright pinks and greens, with lots of foliage and things in a state of blossoming. But in September of 2019 (on Friday the 13th), I broke my foot. My studio is a 19th century converted bank with stairs and since sitting at an easel became impossible, I leaned back heavy into all my favorite old films; in particular, movies starring Joan Crawford, such as A Woman’s Face (1941) and Possessed (1947). The way her angular, chiseled bone structure catches the light in these films is poetic and the photographs of Crawford taken by George Hurrell were some of my most important training in the visual arts. When I was finally ready to go back to work, my mood had completely changed. All I could think about were these films that informed the entire thrust of my style.
Of all the genres of classic cinema that I have incorporated into my work, probably the most consequential has been film noir. With its atmospheric tension and hard-boiled glitz, this brooding style of visual story telling crammed a litany of narrative details into each frame surrounding its phantom temptresses. These films taught me everything I know about composition and light. I was particularly intrigued with how the absence of light seemed to illustrate a complicated narrative. One carefully placed shadow over the left eye could communicate a secret. A shadow over both eyes seemed to indicate a burden.
As a result of my convalescence, along with the added reclusive influence of the COVID-19 pandemic, this new series took a sharp turn from Springtime to midnight. I decided to call it Through A Glass Darkly as it not only suggests the shadowy quality of a lens, but also the biblical passage about not seeing clearly until the end. As my work is ultimately a series of self-portraits, it also suggests a mirror, which is the only interpretation of a work of art that survives.”
Please note: In order to keep our family of artists, collectors and staff safe, and in compliance with the COVID-19 state-wide mandate, the physical gallery will remain closed until further notice but can be reached via email at [email protected].
About Troy Brooks:
Troy Brooks is a contemporary surrealist painter. His work presents an elaborate pageantry of female characters observed in allegorical settings. These women play out intimate scenes, usually caught in moments where something transformative has or is about to happen. The ‘women of Troy’ have become distinctive images on the contemporary pop surrealism scene.