Avenues recent visits to the Paint and Memory exhibit by English painter John A. Parks was a fun experience with the children immediately responding to the finger paintings. They also toured the map paintings of London, pointing to places they knew or recognized by name.
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.
For more images and information : http://johnaparks.com/parks.html
John Alexander Parks
John A. Parks, born 1952 in Leeds, England, is a painter who has shown widely in the US and England over the last thirty years. His work is represented in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Royal College of Art Collection, the Museum of the Rhode Island School of Design and many private collections. He received his M.A.(R.C.A.) in Painting from Royal College of Art, London, England (1973-76), and his B.A. in Fine Art from Hull College of Art, Hull, England (1970 – 73).
Beginning with his meticulous but lyrical realist paintings in the late seventies Parks has concentrated on themes of English life and the broader issue of the relationship between personal and national identity. A long series of delicately romantic paintings in the eighties explored the English obsession with the transformational properties of gardening and landscaping. In the late eighties and nineties Parks shifted his attention to British public imagery where he applied a whimsical, playful and sometimes alarming painterly attack to undermine and decode some of the nation’s most preciously held icons. ln recent years Parks has been using a finger painting technique – literally painting with his fingers – to explore the imagery that occupied his imagination as a child. Paintings of trains, hunting scenes and monuments have recently been superseded my images of schoolyards and the pursuits of boyhood – cycling, exploring, fighting and camaraderie. “The recent work is all executed from memory,” says Parks. “And in using finger painting I’m using a childish method to explore childish things. For all that, these are far from childish paintings. I’m amazed at the rich surfaces and evocative properties of the pictures I’m able to make this way. They are starting to feel like the very stuff of memory. I’ve never been more excited about what I’m doing.” Parks is currently working on a series of Putti paintings. “Ever since the Romans dreamed them up putti have accompanied many kinds of imagery. Rediscovered by Renaissance painters, they appear in countless works throughout the centuries, cheerfully mirroring and often exaggerating grownup behavior. Having worked on narrative paintings for the last few years, I’ve recently been using putti because they give me the opportunity to explore human gestures and interactions in a way that is playful, sometimes bizarre and strangely universal. Using them often feels absurd or wayward but the possibilities for invention, humor and insight into human behavior seem compelling. Putti are also mysterious beings; in the end none of the painters who used them knew who or what they are. Neither do I.”
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Royal College of Art, London
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
Museum of the Rhode Island School of Design
Numerous private collections. AWARDS | GRANTS
1988 National Endowment for the Arts Grant
1974 British Institute Award for Figurative Painting
1974 Scholarship to Skowhegan School of Art, Maine
1974 Fullbright Travel Grant
2018 “Putti”, 532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel, New York
2015 “In New York”, 532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel, New York
2013 “Paint and Memory”, 532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel, New York
2008 Southern Vermont Arts Center, Manchester VT
2005 Allan Stone Gallery, New York
2002 Cricket Hill Gallery, New York
2002 Paul Smith, New York
1992 Coe Kerr Gallery, New York
1991 Louis Newman Gallery, Beverly Hills
1990 Coe Kerr Gallery, New York
1987 Allan Stone Gallery, New York
1984 Allan Stone Gallery, New York
1982 Allan Stone Gallery, New York
1979 Segal Gallery, Boston
1977 Allan Stone Gallery, New York
SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS
2011 Made in the UK. Contemporary British Art from the Richard Brown Baker Collection, Museum of the Rhode Island School of Design
2008 Chicago International Art Fair
2007 Art Basel Miami Beach
2006 Art Basel Miami Beach
2006 Armory Show, New York
2004 “Group” Allan Stone Gallery, New York
2000 ”Forty Years” Allan Stone Gallery, New York
2000 ”New Realism” Jenkins-Johnson Gallery, San Francisco
1999 “Landscapes” Allan Stone Gallery, New York. Exhibition including work by de Kooning, Wayne Thiebaud, Franz Kline, Richard Estes and others
1998 ”London/Paris/New York” at the Beadleston Gallery, New York. An exhibition of cityscapes including work by Monet, Pissaro, Bonnard, Stuart Davis and others
1996 Allan Stone Gallery, New York
1995 Allan Stone Gallery
1994 Hollis Taggart Gallery, Washington DC
1993 Gerold Wunderlich Gallery, New York
1988 Chicago International Art Exposition
1987 Duke University, Durham, NC
1983 Kornblee Gallery, New York
1972 Royal Academy, London SELECTED PRESS
New York Times, 2012 Dec.14, Review of exhibition at 532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel by Roberta Smith.
Passport Magazine. Winter 2005-6. Major article with reproductions.
New York Sun. June 30th 2005. Review of the exhibition at Allan Stone Gallery.
Pulse Magazine. June 2005. Interview.
American Artist. May 1992. Major article with reproductions by Jane Cottingham.
ArtSpeak. February 1984.”John Parks at Allan Stone.”
New York Times. May 30th 1982. John Russell.
Arts Magazine, September and November 1978.