How to Make Paintings from Psychedelic Drugs

"If chemistry has been neglected by visual artists, it might be explained by the simple fact that molecules are invisible." --Hamilton Morris

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02 October 2015, 5:15pm

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A sharpened nugget of stoner wisdom from VICE's own resident drug expert, Hamilton Morris, is the foundation for Kelsey Brookes' new book, show, and print series presented by Quint GalleryPsychedelic Space. "If chemistry has been neglected by visual artists," Morris begins, "it might be explained by the simple fact that molecules are invisible." Simply put, Psychedelic Spaces is an attempt to make the ephemeral forces that make up all matter, a.k.a., chemistry, more digestable.

When I personally think of LSD, normally I visualise a tab, a sugar cube, or this one time a bearded man poured "artisinal, small-batch acid" into my open hands in front of Palisades in Bushwick. None of these vehicles facilitate actual understanding of the drug, and in fact, I have no idea what what the actual nuts and bolts of LSD look like. Brookes' artwork aims to fight that ignorance, both visualising psychotropics like LSD, and comparing them to the chemical makeup of seratonin, a.k.a., "the happy hormone."

Brookes is known for his psychedellic solo shows all over the U.S. and Europe, and designing the album art for both the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ 2012 I’m With You 7” records, and The Flaming Lips’ super limited 2013 Stone Roses LP. He outlines how he applied his signature Frank-Stella-on-mescaline concentric lines to diagrams of chemicals, in a fun and informative video by filmmaker Matthew Lawless, which you can watch following Brookes' visuals, below. 

Learn more about Kelsey Brookes' Psychedelic Spaces on the Quint Gallery page, and see his other work on his website.

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