Brooke McGowen

brooke mcgowen artist


Born in Chicago in 1953, my parents students at the University of Chicago, I early decided to become a painter. I studied painting at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago then changed my focus and studied Physics. My love of Physics has continued to this day where I see the effects of Fluid Dynamics in my painting.

In 1972 I hoped to get a classical art education so I went to Vienna, Austria, where I attended the Art Academy. In Vienna I came into contact with Viennese Actionism and  the Material Actions where paint is used as material. I was inspired to discover the energy of the paint and the concept of direct self-expression through the material paint.

At this same time I also studied figure drawing practicing the expressive lines I saw in the drawings of Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. I became aware of the importance of the figure in painting, the creating of a compelling figurative situation.

The problem in painting as I perceived it was to reconcile the wild energy of abstract painting with the suggestive representation of figurative painting. I knew I had found my calling – to allow the paint total freedom while still representing a figurative situation.

My life became a quest for the perfect painting where the abstract energy of the paint would be at its height and the representation of the figure at its most defined.

I completed my “Silhouttes” series in 1990, figures approximated by throwing dark paint at the white surface.

I lived in Munich for several years where I completed my first “Lovers” series and then moved to Portugal in 1996. There I could apply my color experiments to glowing landscapes of olive and almond trees.

In 2008 I decided to return to my home country and I moved to New York. I lived in Brooklyn where I met some amazing street artists. Using stencils and fluorescent colors were among the techniques I learned working with them. During this period I used the name “Sprezanne”.

In 2009 I founded Radical Art Initiative, a collaboration between street artists and street theater to create visuals for social and environmental actions in New York City. We worked with and other environmental initiatives with actions such as drawing the 2100 high water line on the sidewalk of Lower Manhattan with blue paint.

In Brooklyn I completed two painting series about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a third series about the economic crash of 2008.
In 2010 I finished my “Mutables” series, a group of paintings that change in black light.

Being in numerous group shows in Brooklyn and the Lower East Side gave me the chance to exchange ideas with other painters and to see painting that reinforced my certainty that the new direction in painting addresses the unification of abstraction and figuration.

In 2011 I moved to Peekskill, one hour north of Manhattan, where I currently live and have my studio.

Here I was able to perfect my method of Flow Painting which involves squirting paint directly from plastic bottles onto the canvas which may be lying on the floor or gently propped at an angle. This method allows the paint to swirl at will. Color elements combine to suggest a figurative situation. Much is left to the viewer’s discretion to discern and interpret.

Series completed in Flow Painting include Mother and Baby, Lovers in Black and White, Lovers in Gold, Melting Point, Landscapes, Flowing Heads, Flowing Kiss, Offspring. Each series includes 4-8 paintings. The sizes range from 18 x 24 in. to 36 x 48 in.

The equivalent to this method in drawing was to use red wine to provoke a reaction with the ink.

In 2017 I published an art book, “The Waterdrinkers”, funded through Kickstarter. This film scenario takes place in the future. We see the Filthy Rich in Fortress World pitted against the Starving Masses. The Waterdrinkers are a group of people who create a society based on love and cooperation instead of money.

The book has 20 pages and 8 illustrations.

A book release was held on 4/29/17 at Quimby’s Bookstore, Brooklyn.