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Sink or Swim with Kelsey Brookes

Seeking sex, comedy and animals with the psychedelic San Diego painter.

New So Cal psychedelia has arrived with surfer and painter Kelsey Brookes. Since his Dazed debut in April the inspired artist has released a new (but now sold out) print with Pictures On Walls and the Sink or Swim series of prints (“Every Day The Forces of Sloth and Goal Seeking Fight a Battle for Your Time.”) while delivering 80 drawings to Lazarides and setting up his forthcoming solo exhibition at the Quint Contemporary Art Gallery in La Jolla, San Diego. In between he also managed to jump on some painting trips to Japan and Germany, with better-than-your-average artist collective/label RVCA in the fine company of Mark The Cobrasnake and REVOK. It seemed right to catch up with the amazing talents of Kelsey Brookes whilst he unveiled some new work to Dazed Digital.  

Dazed Digital: How was the Americans On Tour trip?
Kelsey Brookes: It was great. Nothing better than to combine travelling and showing art. Well maybe travelling, surfing and showing art would be better, but it’s a pretty good start.

DD: I’m a big advocate for RVCA. They always do it right, why do you think that is?
Kelsey Brookes: That’s a good question. I think it all comes down to the fact that the people who started RVCA have a serious interest and love for they things they promote, not just because it’s hip or cool but because they really are genuinely interested. I guess that authenticity shines through.

DD: You’re a self-taught artist, were there any desires to go to art college?
Kelsey Brookes: No. I was not aware I was going to be a painter until I became one about four years ago now. By that time university was already finished and it didn’t seem practical to go back, so I just went forward.

DD: Do you think some people have an issue about going/not going to art school?
Kelsey Brookes: Yes. It seems like a polarising issue doesn’t it? Not sure it’s worth debating thought.

DD: Sex, comedy and animals as inspirations. That’s the life of a champion.
Kelsey Brookes: Yeah. Three endless sources of inspiration, I hope. I try and preface that by saying its probably not good to indulge in all three at once though. You might find yourself in jail if you did.

DD: Do you like San Diego zoo?
Kelsey Brookes: I am still a bit divided on zoos unfortunately. I am fascinated by the animals but disappointed that they are captive. I am no longer a member of the Zoologial society here, though I had been for the past three years.

DD: What’s next, are you working on a new solo exhibition?
Kelsey Brookes: Yep. I have a solo show coming up at Quint Contemporary Gallery in La Jolla California in November. I am preparing my largest and most ambitious paintings to date. Lots of new colors, new ideas and exploding animals.

DD: What’s the San Diego ComicCon like?
Kelsey Brookes: Not sure, I didn’t go. But from what I heard on the radio it was crazy.

DD: With Lazarides and Pictures On Walls you’ve got a tight relationship with London, what do you love about our fair city?
Kelsey Brookes: I love the Tube, the free museums and galleries, the curry and the friends I have there. I love the names of cities and Tube stops and most of all I love the Heathrow direct train. However, I am not a fan of low clouds and endless precipitation.