An exhibition of recent abstract paintings by Moe Brooker that burst with color and energy and draw on his love of jazz and his long fertile exploration of art will open at the June Kelly Gallery on June 21. The exhibition, entitled Present Futures, Here and Now, will remain on view through August 2.
Splashes of brilliant color are tied together with thin ribbons of oil stick scribbled with apparent random abandon across the canvas. In some pieces, Brooker allows patterns to emerge in small splotches of reds or blues as brief accents in the overall composition. In other paintings, the patterned areas are larger and more integrated.
Throughout Brooker’s vibrant paintings, the rough and playful rhythms and improvisations of jazz prevail. The perceptive viewer can feel the music, the riffs and spontaneity and beat of a solid five-piece jazz combo, free and loose and enjoying the product of their collaboration.
One of the large pieces in this exhibition is entitled “For Trane & Parker,” named for the jazz greats John Coltrane and Charlie “Bird” Parker. Bebop bassist Charles Mingus and ragtime composer and pianist Scott Joplin are other Brooker favorites. Among artists, the Russian abstract painter Wassily Kandinsky was an important influence, as were Piet Mondrian of France and the Armenian Arshile Gorky.
Brooker investigates pictorial space, he says, to create an inner space, something cosmic and eternal as realized in jazz. The use of eclectic and recycled vocabulary — flat surfaces, gestural brushstrokes, mesmerizing color, the absence of narrative, and “line as lilting melody” –implies habits of established process.
“The making of marks is a source of special wonderment for me,” Brooker says. And, for him, it continues to be an avowal of purpose. “There’s no better way to express joy than in painting.”
Brooker lives and works in Philadelphia. He holds BFA and MFA degrees from Tyler School of Fine Art at Temple University in Philadelphia.
His work is represented in numerous public and private collections, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, The Cleveland Museum of Art, The Studio Museum in Harlem, Hampton University Museum in Virginia, The Gund Foundation, Progressive Insurance Company in Cleveland, Sohio National Headquarters and The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Philadelphia.