...She is in a dialogue with her environment and in turn with her canvases, using her observations of the natural and built environment to determine her raw and instinctual impulses to place colour and line. Be it the effect or movement of wind and rain or the weathering effects of sun on a piece of corrugated tin, Brooks essentially is making a statement about the physical nature of disintegration and renewal. “I am a city based landscape artist, the walls and walkways are my hills and valleys. My work is process based but the end result matters. The process is ephemeral, the outcome concrete. I see people as part of nature, not superior or separate, and I am intrigued by the traces of nature left manifest in built world or city, including human activity.”
There is a sophistication and simplicity to Brooks’ economy of colour and form. A subdued palette hints at a deeper, complex pattern buried within. In some works, such as Ochre Plain, the artist has reduced the painting to a soft field of simple colour. Only the dripping edges reveal the complexity and multiple processes that have occurred before reaching this final harmonious state.
Phe Luxford, 2009.
|Grey on Grey, 2002. Oil on canvas, 137x107 cm.|
MARKED BY TIME
In her childhood Terri Brooks was fascinated by the wallpaper in her bedroom which was browned, stained, spotted – marked by time. Sometimes she added her own marks to the outside walls of her home, blending them with the traces of age, working with the beauty of neglect. Her grandfather, a part-time house painter, gave Terri the task of cleaning his brushes against the corrugated iron wall of his backyard shed. Entranced by thinned paints and rusted iron in the sunlight, this wall became an ongoing painting for her.
These new works by Terri Brooks express the kind of patinated layering found on walls in urban back lanes. There are crusts, vestiges, suggestion of other markings partly obscured. Remnants of what might have been graffiti, weathered places, sections scraped back or scuffed. As a photographer, and as one who regularly walks the paths and lanes of her city, Brooks seeks a rhythm and a place within herself which matches her painted surfaces; these works take shape from those neglected corners, boarded-up doorways, walls, and abandoned objects she has observed in her landscape.
These are paintings of time’s movement, traced through the building-up and weathering-back of human, mechanical and natural patterns. An almost anarchic patterning gives us, as a species, our history and our character. Each artist seeks creative expression in patterning, and Terri Brooks in her latest work has set herself the task of refusing easy or simply attractive solutions. These intimations of patterns are as real, as formal, as inspired, and as accidental as nature – especially through its urban manifestations in modern cities.
Coming from earlier work in landscape, Brooks has eschewed the seduction of the landscape artist’s seemingly natural appeal to beauty. What colour there is breaks out as a mineral might seep through and stain a neglected surface. Brooks’ paintings are close-up, and a sense of time is enhanced as perspective recedes.
If there is a collective unconscious – an unwilled expression of our moods, our seemingly erratic but still purposeful movements through time then these paintings express something of that enormous and barley comprehended past in the present. They appear as mysterious, as sentient, and as unconscious as we are.
Terri Brooks’ fragments and fragmentary markings give us expressiveness of line; hints of knowledge in those early marks all children make-the loop, the dot, the mandala figure of crossed lines, and the simple enclosure of a square; natural expression of energy and time in the drips of paint which are as characteristic of her work as the horizontal band of complex underpainting that can run below or through a picture.
These works are evidence of a continuing history of artists working with oil on canvas in the twenty-first century. With the sophistication and utter simplicity of a strong artist, Brooks pursues to her own ends the earlier projects of Hernandez Pijuan, Cy Twombly and the Spanish artist Tapies. Brooks seeks not the painting but the act of painting, not the marks but a patterned chaos of marking, not writing but the act of writing.
Andrea Lloyd and Kevin Brophy, 2003.