Erik Parker ( geb.1968
Born in Stuttgart, Germany in 1968, Erik Parker lives and works in New York. Erik Parker is a self-appointed archivist of postwar New York Art, with an interest extending to music and performance. His paintings, which resemble drawings, are mostly made up of words: elaborate litanies of name, of people, of places and movements both familiar and famous, that evoke an era or a scene.
Parker paints organisation charts, maps, thorough lists of famous artists around the world, curators, gallery owners, artists, musicians, poets, drug dealers, pimps and famous people that animated the second half of the previous century. The various names are individually enclosed in a cocoon that, seen as a group creates a type of link rich in detail, an original plot in which an expressive strenght extends beyond the work of art, deliberately using naif false style.
In his paintings, each element is linked to another, or descends from another, his works are similar to some amusing family trees. Already sanctioned in the pages of the New York Times as one of the most interesting young New York artists, Erik Parker has created for this exhibition 5 oils on canvas of large dimensions and a series of drawings.
The artist has also participated in the Greater New York exhibition, PS1, New York, 2000 and in Artists in the Market Place, Bronx Museum, New York
New York, Leo Koenig, Inc.,Exhibited "You Paint the Picture", October 15-November 16, 2002;
Los Angeles, The Happy Lion Gallery, Hit the Lights, May 3-June 7, 2003
In recent years Erik Parker has exploded upon the Contemporary art scene bringing with him a unique body of work that is both visually arresting and poignantly relative to pressing social issues. A self-proclaimed activist Parker's work is primarily comprised of the blending of associative words (or names) and sophisticated painting. The artist as activist is by no means a new concept, but in Parker's case he manages to solidify his socio-political stances in a singularly unique syle; blurring the boundaries between the recognizably famous -or infamous-and the ambiguous, creating a novel recontextualzation of society.
Composed in a free-form style akin to jazz improvisation, Parker's paintings are at once colorful, graphic, occasionally psychedelic, and always mesmerizing. The works take on the appearance of geneaological charts or 'maps' linking written words with shape and form. At first glance the composition would appear to be an amalgam of words, organic shapes and symbols, but such is not the case. Each word, name , shape, etc... has been meticulously researched by the artist and correlates directly to the overall theme of each work. These random associations coax the viewer into initiating new pathways through which to glean the essence of a particular era [or topics]. The artist has described his compositions as being a "visual equivalent to a Hip-Hop song" with regard to their structure and flow on the canvas.
In the present lot, Can't Explain, Parker delves into an area of considerable controversy especially in the wake of recent events in World History. There is an overall complexity present in the composition. Organic, worm-like shapes fill the entire canvas. Bold hues of blue, green, and pink executed in a variety of mediums dominate the composition, beckoning the viewer; luring them to delve deeper into the visual experience. "The combinations of painterly mediums also seem improvisational-marker, enamel and acrylic coexist harmoniously, and the scribbles and doodles carry over onto the unprimed edges of the canvas" (M. Kuntz, "Erik Parker at Leo Koenig", Art in America, April 2003). After the initial visual ambush of color and form subsides, one begins to acknowledge the presence of the textual elements. The Names of terrorists, suicide bombers and pedophilic priests make up the bulk of the text. Arranged in typical Parker fashion, the text is organized into a structured "map". Each of the names and phrases relate to each other and reinforce to the overall thematic idea of the work as conveyed through the very fitting title - Can't Explain.
Parker's work exists on multiple planes and as a result many of his works are instilled with certain degrees of irony. The irony of Can't Explain exists in the way that Parker has taken very serious and somber social issues and illustrates them in a bright colorful, candycoated package. This juxtaposition of two seemingly opposing ideas does not prove to be detrimental to the work. On the contrary, instead of detracting from the work, this commingling of ideas helps to further drive home Parker's message. Creating works that are politically charge or touch upon controversial issues can be a slippery slope upon which to tread. In the case of Erik Parker, however the synthesis of his keen eye, awareness of current societal issues, sharp wit and inimitable painting style form a solid foundation upon which to construct his paintings.
Link: www.paolocurti.com/ parker/parker.htm