Monday, November 1st, 2010
Life for Erik Parker is far from still. Last year the artist broke from the text and icon based glyph-like paintings that had guided him through successful solo shows in NY, Europe and Japan, unveiling new works with Paul Kasmin Gallery that were at once reminiscent of the dazzling colored psychedelia of Rick Griffin and portraiture somewhere between the twisted faces of Francis Bacon and the surreal-like heads of 16th century painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo. Now on the verge of his first museum exhibition, the Brooklyn based artist tackles yet another stylistic departure with a Los Angeles gallery show that is once again bound to surprise those familiar with his work. Earlier this month I paid Erik a visit in the studio to chat as he was putting the finishing touches on his newest paintings.
JN: Your upcoming exhibit reaches back to some of your work from several years ago, while also exploring new ground with still life paintings. Do you actively think about your next move professionally and where you are headed artistically, or take more of a Taosit approach and let the current take you where it may?
EP: That’s a good question! With the new body of work the idea was to make paintings that were “pretty” and speak not of the grotesque but the good looking shit in life, so I looked to the still life.
JN: Interesting. I was wondering if any of them were specific references to other know works, but I think you said mostly they were from random, unknown Google searches?
EP: Yea, I did get some of the images from Googling but I also looked to Rousseau and Braque.
JN: For me the still life paintings were a surprising departure in content, while unmistakably still your own. It made me think back to some painters who all tackled this motif at points in their careers. Lichtenstein and Leger were the first to come to mind. Were you thinking about this dialogue at all?
EP: For sure man, absolutely!
JN: Did you get a chance to check out that massive Lichtenstein still life show that Gagosian had this past year?
EP: That Lichtenstein show was mind blowing. I love how his still lifes are his style but really honest too. I think he wanted them to be pretty on his own terms and that’s where i am coming from too.
JN: With the majority of the show focused on new material, My Inventory is more reminiscent of your work on paper from a few years back.
EP: Word! My Inventory is the first of it’s kind on canvas. I just wanted to see if that type of work could be carried over onto canvas. It was sort of a personal challenge. That body of work and working that way is always fun and rigorous, so I do a few ever year and push them into diferent directions over a long period of time. The one on canvas had killer results. It became more graphic and illuminated in a post-pop kind of way.
JN: From the new paintings, it also struck me as the most personal piece.
EP: Right! But they are all a bit personal at the end of the day. There is no way out of that with me.
JN: Well, not to get too personal, but great record collection. It’s nice to see a fellow vinyl addict! What have you been listening to in the studio lately?
EP: Glad you asked man! I have been into heavy stuff for the last couple years. Off the top of my head, the Melvins, Sleep, Pissed Jeans, Hawkwind, Fela, Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers, Orange Goblin, Radio Moscow, Ghostface, and Children have been on a lot.
JN: So you grew up in San Antonio and went to college in Austin at the University of Texas, right? Were you in with the punk and indie scene down there?
EP: I think being Texan and being exposed to all that music and that kind of “fuck you, we’re from Texas” attitude had a big impact on me. That mixed with studying with Peter Saul definitely help me find my own voice as an artist.
JN: Right on! On that note, you’re about to have a bit of a homecoming with your first solo museum show. What’s the deal with that?
EP: I met the curator of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth through my gallerist Honor Fraser in L.A. and we hit it off right away. I’m stoked to being doing a show there!
(All images and text © Jeff Newman/TheArtCollectors)