Jason Brooks, artist: 'I'm interested in the parochial but not in a negative way'

Karen Wright meets the artist at his studio in west London

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The Independent Culture

The very stylish shaven-headed Jason Brooks greets me at the door of his studio in west London. He lives there with his wife and three-year-old child, evidence of whom can be found in the studio in the form of a mini chalkboard. There is little indication of painting, save some traces on the wall, as the canvases have been moved out for his current show. There is, however, a state-of-the-art compressor for his spray painter.

Born in 1968 in Rotherham, Yorkshire, Brooks arrived in London aged 17, ending up in Deptford. After finishing his foundation at Goldsmiths College he withdrew from the city to study at Cheltenham College of Art before returning to finish his studies at Chelsea College of Art. He recalls his time in Cheltenham as most formative, with good tutors and discussion, giving him perspective on London.

After completing his studies Brooks removed himself from London again, building a large studio near Ashford in Kent, an experiment in the quiet life. He studied the parochial art scene and riffed off it as his subject matter. "The paintings can be bad in a good way. The artists share a common denominator: a desire to succeed".

Brooks subsequently returned to the capital and found this light space in west London, where he has been for five years. It sits on a main road yet is almost eerily quiet.


Brooks is a thoughtful artist. He is fascinated, like many of his peers, by the work of Gerhard Richter, who moved between figuration and abstraction, embracing both. Brooks's painted portraits embrace both fashion icons and others, all depicted with the same objective analysis. "I am fascinated by Kate [Moss]. I am not a fan of having a lot of work done. I am airbrushing details in but we are in a society that is fascinated by not looking, and airbrushing things out."

His sculptures, painted bronzes that resemble ceramic, move again between the real and the imaginary, questioning what is real, exploring that postmodern theme of eclecticism.

Whether he is painting an amateur attempt at an art club, manipulating it through scale, or examining a masterpiece, he takes the same care over his technique. He points out, "I am interested in the parochial, but not in a negative way. I grew up with these things. We did not have high art on the wall."

Like all painters, Brooks points out you spend a lot of time alone thinking, or perhaps sitting in tea rooms. Ultimately, though, like all artists he is "trying to find out myself – if I had all the answers there would be no point".

Jason Brooks: Origins continues at Marlborough Contemporary, London W1 (020 7629 5161) to 18 July