Hope Brooks' "Four Pomegranates"

Excerpt from Lecture No. 7
Delivered by Petrine Archer-Straw

face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, Sans-Serif" size="-2"> src="files/ps/images/_hbrooks.jpg" alt="HBrooks.jpg" width="149" height="150" align="left" />Hope Brooks is an artist in search of the essence of life, this search is so exhaustive and painstaking that it has taken her through many stages in her art, both conceptually and stylistically. Her surfaces and personal statements which reflects, however subtly this constant pursuit of perfection within the organic world. But this search is not an urgent one, neither is it restricted to the canvas alone, in this instance the artist and work are in the process of becoming, they are moving towards oneness. In order to begin to understand this artist's works, one has to fully grasp this artist's concept of time, one must put aside the Western self-indulgent voice of instant gratification and one must simply come to terms with the process of waiting.

Unfolding in Hope Brooks' work is a dialogue concerning life itself, with all its complexities, it is a dialogue which addresses itself on the surface, the use of texture and female imagery, combined with exquisite abstractions of organic forms; and beneath that surface the more fundamental concerns of time and elements and the process of them decay her femaleness and her spirituality.

The major work, 'Four Pomegranates' in many ways touches on some of these basic concerns central to the understanding of Hope Brooks' work. In these four panels we view what the artist refers to as the 'rise and fall of the pomegranate' - but is this not a view of life's process to which we are all subject?.

The fruit in various stages of its life is, perhaps representative of the four seasons Spring, Summer, Autumn, and winter. The pomegranate in its spring-like, almost virginal state, is represented in the first panel, delicately painted with a mere hint of texture. Its seeds full of promise have not yet realised their potential for sweetness and glisten with a crisp, white acidity of colour which we know is still bitter to the tongue. In panel two, the pomegranate is fully ripe, oozing, with colour and the wined-toned reds which speak in richness to the onset of fermentation. Texture is more apparent in skin, toughening somewhat at the outer edges. In the third panel, this toughening is fully realised captured with a heavily textured surface which is parched and brittle. The encrustation is enhanced with a network of scratchings and marks which depicts life's handwriting on this aging fruit. Finally, the pomegranate is reflected in the winter of its life, in tones not unlike that of the springtime depiction. However, the image of it receding into the canvas, it is a mere whisper of the rich fruit of Summer, and the heavy autumnal encrustation has disintegrated into a light powdery surface with barely visible etchings.

Many would refer to Hope Brooks' work as abstract, but it can be seen just from her approach and documentation of this fruit that her approach is far from that. In fact, Hope Brooks' works are strongly representational, descriptive and narrative as demonstrated by this work, and it is an approach with which she has been consistent from her earliest days as an artist.