Sunday, September 29, 2013

Erik Parker

I first had the opportunity to visit the studio of Erik Parker several years ago. Not only was I struck by how very cool Parker and his paintings were, but most importantly, by his dynamic color schemes, his use of vociferous imagery, and his fearless dedication to the lengthy "start to finish" of an extremely complicated painting. Oh, and he had a sweet studio in Williamsburg with a skylight. Years later, it was a thrill for me to return and draw his space, still seized by his artistry. When I arrived, Parker's paintings were all lined up, ready to be shipped to LA for a solo show that opens this Fall at Honor Fraser. There was so much going on it was hard to figure out where to begin. Parker gave me a jovial smirk and wished me good luck.

As I set up, and Parker and his assistant Michael Dotson got back to work, it was a trying task to figure out how to draw these paintings while still subscribing to their mantra of "detail and precision." Attacking them across, from top to bottom, seemed to be my best bet. I soon realized that some of Parker's new work actually reads from top to bottom much like a scroll or a tablet, with painted-out messages loaded with subtle jokes and witty revelations on the iconic imagery of our collective past. The long paintings that stood like an army upright against the wall brought to mind totem poles, telling stories of loudmouthed faces, tuned in television sets, and birds in seasonal flight. And the pyramid shaped paintings that are built from the thin lines of Parker's contemporary hieroglyphics gave me a pleasingly blurred sense of perspective as the canvases' subtle color shifts convinced me of a third dimension that was not there. At some point I reached the end of drawing one of the towering canvases and discovered text that spelled out YOUR OWN PATH. I took that thought home with me and used it as my own mantra throughout the week.

It was a two day session in the end, and the hard working Parker and his assistant seemed as satisfied with their pre-show sense of wrapping things up as I did with my meager drawing. Parker explained it had been a whirlwind of production since May to get these works ready for the Fall. With music playing that was as energetic as the work itself and those last few sips of ice coffee before the weather changed, I finished up and took a nice stroll back to my place. Parker was a great visit. He is currently in a really exciting looking show at Ballroom Marfa called "Comic Future" that is up until January if you happen to be in Marfa, Texas. And to see more of his awesome works go here

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