Paint and Memory
Recent Paintings by John A. Parks
through February 16, 2013
In his recent pictures, executed as finger paintings, John Parks explores the memories of his English childhood in a series of richly evocative images. “In a sense I’m using a childish means to recreate a child’s world,” says the artist, “although the resulting paintings are far more sophisticated than those of a child.” The lush surfaces, gloriously layered color and suggestive drawing work together to create a novel and intensely nostalgic vision. What is remembered are glimpses, sometimes idyllic and sometimes disturbing; cycling through a village on a summer’s day, playing hide-and-seek in a public park, the mayhem of an indoor swimming pool, the sudden formality of a Maypole dance. The limitation of painting with his fingers has forced Parks to simplify the descriptive tasks of the painting. “There is a certain indeterminacy with finger painting,” he says, “you are never exactly sure where an edge is going to go. Chance events occur that you can edit out or leave in. The process adds a richness and a very physical engagement with the paint. Accidents can often be suggestive – they prod the imagination and provide a sense of discovery. Every mark is truly an adventure.”
Also on view are three large-scale map paintings of London in which the artist manipulates space and point of view to provide a highly entertaining excursion through the streets of his native city. Presented from multiple viewpoints but lodged in a fairly accurate street plan, buildings, monuments, bridges and buses come alive in an unexpected and inventive fashion.
Educated at the Royal College of Art in London, Parks has made paintings over the last thirty years that have focused on themes of English life seen through expatriate eyes. The artist has lived for decades in New York and teaches at the School of Visual Arts. Throughout that time the artist’s work has evolved expressively and stylistically. His early and intense realist work was closely associated with the realist revival but carried with it from the start a lyrical and intensely personal quality. John Russell, writing in the New York Times, dubbed him “A true poet in paint and something of a find.” In the mid eighties and nineties Parks adopted a larger scale approach to paint images of public monuments in a series of paintings that explored the unease of national identity and its attendant rituals. These works included a highly irreverent series of English soldiers, often shown dancing or otherwise cavorting.
Parks has been represented by several major New York galleries including Allan Stone Gallery and Coe Kerr Gallery. His work is included in a number of museum collections including the Victoria and Albert Museum, in London and the Museum of the Rhode Island School of Design. This exhibition marks his debut with 532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel.
New York Times review by Roberta Smith (link)
The New York Review of Books (link)
Video: John Parks talks about his work (link)
For more images and information : http://johnaparks.com/parks.html