Kelsey Brookes is putting the finishing, trippy touches on paintings for Serotonin; Happiness and Spiritual States, his second solo show in San Diego that opens from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, at Quint Contemporary Art in La Jolla (7547 Girard Ave.). Brookes, who traded in his lab coat for a paint-stained T-shirt, uses his scientific background and mind-expanding drug experiences to paint the molecular world as if Hunter S. Thompson were looking at it through an electron microscope.
Brookes has taken the structural framework of LSD, mescaline and DMT molecules and made large-scale, psychedelic representations of what they'd look like if, say, you dropped a tab, or several. The effect is a tidal wave of colors that floods your eyeballs with a swirling interplay of patterns that seem to move on the canvas without the help of drugs. Several of the works tower over Brookes' head, and there are smaller pieces, too, that exhibit his precision and painstaking-detail style. From the center of the canvas, Brookes' patterns bloom outward in a maze of pulsating colors, which he had help coloring in, he says.
Though he doesn't dabble with hallucinogens anymore, Brookes says he's able to get to a similar place through meditation. Practice makes perfect, or, at least, something amazing to look at.