The Subject Is Not The Subject
Feb 08 — Mar 10
Marlborough is pleased to present its third solo exhibition with Jason Brooks. It is the artist’s largest show to date and the first time Marlborough displays one artist across both the ground and first floor galleries. For over 20 years Brooks has made works that explore how the language of painting can focus on one art object and, via a journey of exploration, turn it into another.
In the ground floor galleries are paintings inspired by amateur landscape artists and are titled after poems by the celebrated 19th century English poet John Clare. Out of sheer affection for these hobbyist paintings, Brooks’ works pay homage to the author’s visions of landscape writ large. The journey from inspiration to outcome transforms each of these paintings in surface, medium, image and colour. A painters’ painter, Brooks uses a wide range of painting vocabulary to create works that are acutely observed, amplify a shared vision and encourage the audience to step in.
In a darkened room towards the back of the gallery, a captivating large-scale bust is presented alongside devotional paintings. In reimagining such images, Brooks illuminates the power of the painted icon and its meaning in a time of instant information and “alternative facts”. Titled ‘Excelsior Super X’ after the legendary racing motorcycle and inspired by a delicate 19th Century marble bust, the sculpture is veiled in a painterly darkness.
The first floor galleries show nine painted portraits, precisely constructed in Brooks’ signature style of portraiture. Taking numerous photographs and drawings of his sitters and thereby seizing their essence from varied viewpoints, Brooks’ portraits each come to life via a painstaking process of combining fact with memory that ultimately leads to a new unified form. All of equal size and hung at uniform eye level, the viewer is consumed by Brooks’ memories and timeless presence of his subjects.
For the accompanying publication, British writer Will Self met with Brooks at the artist’s studio in Gloucestershire. Self’s compelling essay, ‘The Object is not Objective’, transports the reader into a vividly animated fantasy of Jason Brooks’ oeuvre and effortlessly unifies these three groups of works.
Born in 1968 in Rotherham, UK, Jason Brooks lives and works between London and Gloucestershire. He studied at Goldsmiths, received his B.F.A. from Gloucestershire College in 1991 and his M.F.A. from Chelsea College of Arts in 1992. Since 2012, the artist’s work has been represented by Marlborough. Selected solo exhibitions include: Origins, Marlborough Contemporary, London (2015); Ultra Flesh, Marlborough Contemporary, London (2013); and Paul Nurse and Other Works, National Portrait Gallery, London (2008). His work has been part of group exhibitions worldwide including: Harewood House, Harwood; Southampton City Art Gallery, Southampton; Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool; Saatchi Gallery, London; National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul; Scottish Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow; Jerwood Gallery, London; Sharjah Art Museum, Sharjah; Manchester City Art Gallery, Manchester; and Serpentine Gallery, London. Collections which hold works by the artist include: Walker Art Gallery, Harewood House, The Saatchi Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Dakis Joannou/Deste Foundation Collection, The Berardo Collection, ABN AMRO Collection and Unilever Collection.