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Paintings Break Down Exactly What Happens on Psychedelic Drugs

Kelsey Brookes visualizing psychotropics like LSD.

by Beckett Mufson
Jul 4 2017, 11:50am

Screencaps via

This article was originally published on October 2, 2015, but we think it still rocks!

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 Gallery titled Psychedelic Space. "If chemistry has been neglected by visual artists," Morris begins, "it might be explained by the simple fact that molecules are invisible." 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 visualize a tab, a sugar cube, or this one time a bearded man poured artisanal, 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 the actual nuts and bolts of LSD look like. Brookes' artwork aims to fight that ignorance, both visualizing psychotropics like LSD, and comparing them to the chemical makeup of seratonin, the happy hormone.

Brookes is known for his psychedellic solo shows all over the US 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.

Related:

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'Psychedelic Space' Turns the Chemistry of Mind-Altering Drugs Into Art

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High Art: Mescaline-Inspired Paintings Are a Trip