It is easy to get lost in an abstract painting of Arthur Brouthers. The colorful layers of swirls, amorphous shapes and dots are unlike anything found in this world. The possibilities of interpretation are endless and ever-changing. The paintings are so organic in appearance, you are not sure if you are looking at a microscopic organism, an earthly ecosystem, a celestial galaxy of another dimension, or all of the above. The wonderment is half the fun. While organic in appearance, there is really nothing organic about the process.
In an urban building on the outskirts of the artsy North Davidson neighborhood is Arthur Brouthers’ studio. Among the power tools and gallons upon gallons of paint lies the most important tool, a little black notebook containing the secrets of his trade: his self-discovered paint mixtures. The downside of utilizing techniques created by self-discovery is that there are no resources to turn to for questions. “There is no other place I can learn these tricks of the trade,” Brouthers says. ”There are so many little things that I do that I need to keep track of. I also have to record my mistakes so that I dont make them again because there is nowhere else that I can learn them.” These tricks are a combination of chemical reactions and paint manipulation with various tools that create each shape and layer of his paintings. While most artists use brushes and palette knives to make their mark on their creations, Arthur spends hours poking chemical paint bubbles with a tooth pick. While the process may not seem glamorous, the result is breathtaking.
Born and raised in a religious and conservative household in Charleston, South Carolina, Arthur wasn’t always understood or supported. Not wanting to give up on his artistic dreams, he rebelled by leaving his hometown for a traveling musical career with Red Bull. At the time, being a DJ satisfied his creative urge but it ultimately left him feeling empty and unfulfilled. Painting gave Arthur a more permanent creative fulfillment. After moving to Charlotte, he jumped into the art scene by co-founding Culture Initiative, a creative forum for local grassroots artists. After promoting and planning over 30 art related events around the city, Arthur took a step down in 2014 to focus on his own art career. “Culture Initiative really inspired me to do what I am doing now. All the artists I worked with really inspired me and we are all still good friends,” said Brouthers.
Like most artists, creating art is a form of balance and meditation for Arthur. Even the mundane steps that most creatives would find boring, he sees as instrumental to his entire process. Arthur studies meditation and utilizes these lessons in his art as well as his everyday life.
Painting helps me stay meditative, mindful, and present throughout the day and that state of mind keeps me from getting frustrated when something doesn’t work out. For me, I see mistakes as a learning process and that is what helps me stay grounded.
Even after ten years of experimenting with materials, Brouthers self-taught techniques leave little room for error. That which is the beauty of his process can also be its demise; outside forces like temperature, humidity, or the presence of dust, hair, or bugs, can all interfere with the perfection of the final product. Its the delicacy and mortality of every step of the proess that ultimately makes the finished product that much more valuable.
One of his more recent exhibitions, Ecosystems, at Hedhi Media in Charleston allowed Brouthers to exhibit 30 new paintings, digital images, and video installations that reflect his interpretation of the world within and around us. The solo show was complimented with accent wood furniture made by fellow artist and longtime friend, Bill Long.
Arthurs works can be permanently seen on display or purchased in Charlotte at Sozo Gallery. To learn more about the art of Arthur Brouthers or to purchase one of his paintings you can also visit his website at www.arthurbrouthers.com.