Because I find some of the most striking visual art when prowling through people’s Instagram posts.


Troy Brooks always paints elegantl, extremely elongated, idealized, beautiful and frightening women. One of the things I most like about his art is that I like it in spite of myself. By that I mean that it’s not my cup of tea, or something I’d ever do myself, but it’s a damned fine brew.

If you imagine the woman’s whole body, she must be 8 feet tall, and is as angular as an insect. Her head is impossible. Just look at how long her nose is.

The most dramatic and mysterious detail of the painting is the shadow over her forehead. It might be caused by the rim of a ceiling light, but could be some other object blocking the light that otherwise brightly illumines her face. If you follow her eyes, she’s not looking at us, but glares lizard-like up at the light, or whatever is casting the shadow. Her jaw is set, and her expression registers anticipation and defiance.

Her brightly colored lips are the visual focus of the painting. Not only is the contrast between the darkness of the lips and the luminous flesh the most pronounced in the image, her mouth is sharply articulated while her jaw line softly blurs into the background. The lips represent sensuality, but are not inherently so. Is the woman supposed to be alluring? The reference to femme fatales and classic film noir indicates she is, in which case she is psychologically, but this sort of woman in the flesh would be an untantalizing freakazoid.

When I first saw Brooks’ work I wondered at his fixation, fascination, obsession or fetishization of these extremely tall and aloof women. In an interview Francis Bacon said that his portraits were really self portraits because a painting is always a statement about the artist. What statement do these images make, and what do they say about their creator? Does he peer out from behind their eyes? Is he the looming, threatening figure? Is she an ideal, fantastical woman, or human? Is she an elusive object of love? Is she a fetishized sex object? Is she the heroine or the antagonist? Let me know what you think in the comments, if inclined.

The only thing I’m sure of is that she is beautiful, and the artist is a connoisseur of visual beauty. The soft pastel circles of the cityscape are lovingly painted. There are wonderful details such as the burning cigarette poised on the edge of the ashtray; the smoke curling above it; the reflections of the ashtray on the window sill; and the twisted stem of the cocktail glass.

Behind her magenta-gloved hand, which would work for a lizard, is a bas relief sculpture of a female angel with a sword battling a devil. Finally, she has one hand behind her back. Perhaps she has a gun, or a knife, or is crossing her fingers.

At first this painting might seem like a facile illustration for a woman’s magazine, but it is more beautiful and mysterious when you give it time. Outside of the immediate content within the window of the painting, I am still gnawing on how it reflects on the artist, and how it is intended to impact viewers.

The painting is a bit like the blue drink she guides us to — a peculiar intoxicant that forces us to see the world through a modified lens, distorted and tragic, dangerous, alluring, and beautiful.

~ Ends

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8 replies on “Instagram Gem O’ Th’day #5: Troy Brooks

  1. Since the figures on the wall look in human proportion but the woman isn’t, she could be an ET. If a drunk saw her as elongated, the figures on the wall would be stretched too.
    She’s sad. Maybe she landed in the city and got this room in an expensive hotel but knows she’ll never find a part in the movies with her alien looks. Maybe she’s sad over some guy or maybe she’s homesick for her planet. She could be hiding a weapon too, she might be going to zap some guy. Maybe he’s a director and wants her to get on the casting couch so she can have the starring role in a movie. It could mean that actresses are unworldly to the artist. Those are my guesses.


    1. “Maybe he’s a director and wants her to get on the casting couch so she can have the starring role in a movie.” That hadn’t even occurred to me. I thought of the alien thing, but not as in-depth as you did. I rather like that interpretation. And, yes, she’s elongated, but the figures in the bas-relief are not, in which case she may be the only one like herself. I didn’t see her as sad, but she could be. There’s red around her eyes. Thanks for sharing your ideas!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Did I say actresses were unworldly to the artist? I meant otherworldly. Now I’m pretty sure the director already HAD her on the casting couch and she found out he gave the part to another actress. So now she’s going to zap him, because she’s not going in for the extensive plastic surgery he wants her to have.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow! I love the eyes, the long fingers and all the small (and large) details in the background, that you mentioned. I’d say the artist is longing for an elusive object of love/desire or maybe he’s satisfying his need to be dominated.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I see. So, you are going with the woman being an object of desire, I think. Maybe. But he doesn’t just create her for his personal enjoyment, but rather for the world. It may be a multi-faceted relationship the artist isn’t even himself fully conscious of, as quite often artists aren’t able to express the finer and more subtle aspects of their art in words. Being visual cues, they may not even be translatable into words.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yeah, I was pending between love and desire. But I’ll stick with desire. I took a quick glance at his IG feed and there’s a lot of sexuality implied… mixed with cruelty. It becomes trickier to know what one is thinking when portraying the opposite sex, instead of their own gender. Psychoanalysts would have a lot of fun with this.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. “Psychoanalysts would have a lot of fun with this.” Yes, and I think those are all good things, by that I mean there being complex implied feelings and not really knowing for sure what it means or how to judge it.

        Liked by 2 people

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