Timothy Brooke Exhibition
About the exhibition
"The City, Mountain Approaches and further North"
Timothy Brooke is one of Kenya's most famous artists. An accomplished portraitist, it is for his paintings of the African wild that he has established a reputation both locally and internationally, particularly in the USA. Impressionist in influence, vibrant and spontaneous in style he paints in 'tectonic' planes of vivid flat colour colliding with each other to create landscapes with explosions of blurry drama. He is 72 now and has been painting all his life.
Born beside the wild, his passion for it speaks out in his painting. Anyone who has ever experienced the great African outdoors will be aware of the powerful feelings it evokes. Gazing out across it's vastness, as the eye retreats to infinity, depth's own diminishing stature lets time loom ever larger. A dwarfing sense of existence vastly beyond those of common understanding puts oneself in a new perspective like a fibre in the canvas: a piece of the whole; structural, essential even, but tiny and anonymous, compressed into the fabric across which the greater whole is rendered.
Perhaps this flattening of complexity is what lends this space to art and many artists paint it. But what Timothy paints is time, both fleeting and eternal, which anyone acquainted with the African experience will poignantly re-live. A voyage around the work of Timothy Brooke may see time make another appearance, now in a more familiar but despairingly humanistic way. As Africa accelerates along the route of progress, modernity and nature appear to sit more awkwardly together. Colourful Borana women fetching water on their donkeys; Bajuni tribesmen with their camels: all a natural part of the Natural World.
For a country in a demographic transition that has seen, in a couple of generations, a transformation from palaeolithic pastoralist roaming free in nature to urban sophisticate never having seen an animal in the wild, what are we to make of the work of Timothy Brooke. Is he making postcards of the happy times in the sun we once had long ago; an eco-diarist in the service of posterity? It is a crisis not of space but of time. Are we to lose the Natural Heritage of millions of years of African evolution because, for thirty short years, we failed to contain the activities of a relative handful of people who, without malice but with great harm, are failing to make the transition?
Nature is not ours to save; nor is it ours to destroy. It is for us to live alongside with the least interference and the greatest cohesion. As the fibres in the canvas we cannot become the painting. In the transition to our Brave New World it is better to build our bridges than to burn them. If the art of Timothy Brooke can stimulate a more serious contemplation of what we stand to lose that would be a fitting legacy for a fine artist. A reminder too that art is the analogue of life. If we paid more attention to our artists we would better understand ourselves.
More on Timothy Brooke
Preview of Works
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Exhibition openings are usually on the last Saturday of every month, excluding December. The gallery remains open on Sundays allowing anyone who missed the opening to catch the exhibition the next day. Do join our mailing list so we can add you to our invitation list.