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#032 – Brent Estabrook

We welcome Brent back to the podcast to talk about his work, blue check marks on Instagram, his solo exhibit in New York, and people wanting to touch his paintings.

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by Clean Break Staff

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Brent Estabrook


Brent Estabrook (b. 1985)

He received a BFA from the University of Arizona and a Doctorate of Dental Surgery (DMD) from the University of Louisville.

Best known for his large-scale oil paintings of stuffed animals, Estabrook approaches his work with a delightful playfulness while maintaining a sedulous painterly technique. His personal ritual of mixing and applying paint is honed to a surgical precision, a method informed by his doctorate education. Laying down each thick, richly pigmented brushstroke with attentive patience, Estabrook builds up a rich impasto that evokes the fibers of plush fabric, velvet, and fleece. The artist harmonizes this pristine and sophisticated painting process with the unfettered joy and curiosity exemplary of child’s play.

The impetus for Estabrook’s artistic odyssey occurred during his time at dental school. Induced by the frustration of mounting student debt, he began making paintings of various currencies, scaled up to the size of novelty checks. His very first sale came soon after, setting off an exhilarating spark as he began seeing the viability of an artistic career. Delving deeper into his newfound passion and eager to further his career potential, Estabrook created a series of colorful skulls; his comprehensive understanding of the subject--courtesy of his medical education--allowed for freedom to thoroughly experiment with color and technique, which in turn led to the artist developing the distinctive brushwork and color palette that is now his forte.

The series that definitively placed Estabrook on the contemporary art map was Perpetual Recess, begun in 2015. These large-scale oil paintings depict highly textured cornucopias of various stuffed animals, each unique composition bristling with baroque energy and glowing with synthetic shades of hot pink, acid green, and high-pitched blue. The pure delight radiating from each piece is rivaled only by the impressively adroit brushwork and lush density of paint applied diligently stroke by stroke.

Estabrook’s most recent paintings, which retain his hallmark buttery textures and vibrant color palette, are characterized by the artist’s developing focus on formalism. Prioritizing a mindset of authenticity has become the driving force of his new work; as he began paring down his subject matter to its bare essentials, he found an intriguing magic in keeping all outside influence out of his painting process.

A paramount component of Estabrook’s overarching approach to artmaking is a mindful presence at each second of painting. He believes that “it’s not what you paint, it’s how you paint,” and his best work happens when the “how” is answered by a practiced awareness that keeps him in the moment, connected with each brush bristle and every mark put on canvas. It’s a creed informed equally by meditation techniques and the pure immersion and commitment to his life's pursuit.. As the artist’s exploration of subject and content progresses, so does his exercise in total assimilation with his work.

Brent Estabrook currently lives and works in Los Angeles, California.


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