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Theoretical and Concrete

Updated: Dec 6, 2021

Paintings in Brick Dust by Brooke Lanier

The Bazemore Gallery

Philadelphia, PA

March 5th-April 15th, 2017

"Brooke Lanier is an artist who finds beauty and interest in what can be imperceptible to others. She brings a microscopic eye and a deep-seated intellectual curiosity about the natural world to her paintings. As she stated, “Whatever you spend a lot of time thinking about becomes important. Paying intense attention to overlooked details of the natural world elevates mundane things.”

In the series of works that comprise the exhibition, Theoretical and Concrete, Brooke has brought her attention to the traditions of Japanese and Chinese painting, which form the theoretical portion of the show and brick dust that encompasses the concrete.

The Japanese and Chinese traditions that inform Brooke’s Imaginary (theoretical) series are predicated on the concept of finding balance in the passive and active to produce a proper landscape. Japanese and Chinese landscapes use the depiction of mountains to connote the passive and water to represent the active. In her Imaginary series the depicted mountains are ethereal and not capable of being climbed. They exist solely in theory and not in nature. Their empyrean quality lends even more emphasis to their chimerical quality. Yet Brooke has rendered them with such exquisite brushwork that the viewer is drawn to contemplate a journey.

By contrast the Fishtown (concrete) series is grounded in reality even though the depicted walls do not exist. While the brushwork of Imaginary is spontaneous, the creation of the pigments used in all of the paintings in this exhibition is a deliberate and time-consuming process. Foraging for discarded bricks in forgotten and abandoned buildings and lots in Philadelphia’s Fishtown neighborhood, Brooke transported them back to her studio where she began the arduous process of culling the bricks by color, shattering and then grinding the bits to a fine dust with a mortar and pestle. This resulted in an assortment of 20 individual colors ranging from peach to chocolate, russet to purple. After mixing these pigments with various media they became her paint. And then the deliberate process of creation began.

The juxtaposition of these two bodies of work are visually compatible while offering a yin and yang element of opposite concepts co-existing in harmony."

- Deborah Oliver, Curator

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