Honor Fraser Gallery presents Erik Parker’s third solo exhibition with the gallery, New Magnetic Destiny.
Like Ray Yoshida, one of the Chicago Imagists, and Tadanori Yokoo, described as the “Japanese Andy Warhol,” Parker has developed a distinct visual vocabulary, through the manipulation of found images and an interest in popular culture produced during eras of social, political, and economic revolution. As Yoshida did, Parker does also – avidly collecting objects and images that are considered outside the boundaries of traditional art and incorporating them into the work. Any object or image from comic books, popular culture, pornography, may inspire and encourage the discovery of new and personal interpretations.
This exhibition brings together his iconic pyramid and plank-shaped canvases with his still lifes, which feature analog television monitors and controlled views of jungle and beach landscapes. The pyramid canvases reference the social movements in Egypt in early 2011 and the top-down structure of Ponzi schemes. Like the game Chutes and Ladders, these socio and political phenomena operate within a framework of surprise action, instability, and upheaval of reigning entities. These new bodies of work continue Parker’s colorful transgressiveness and anti-authoritarian approach to established ideologies, as well as introduce his new collage process. In the pyramid and plank canvases, Parker overlays selected paper images from underground magazines, charging the paintings with accessible and recognizable content. The images also function as marks on the canvas, complicating the general composition. The specificity of the printed material sources, magazines from the late 1970s to early 1980s, relate to an era when Parker was an idealistic young adult; an era when socially progressive values still resisted the dominant culture and the design of objects was more anthropomorphic-like.
Parker’s works continue to be incredibly packed and nuanced. “They are an overload,” he explains. 1960s television monitors, ubiquitous 1970s boomboxes, and similarly looking “knobby” devices and light bulbs bring to mind eyes, nipples, and gaping mouths that reveal vacation vistas of pools and beaches. Consistent with his fascination with the clandestine, one is left to wonder if the “eyes/knobs” of Parker’s television sets are there not to be seen but to survey the television viewer. Aware of the up-and-coming trends in politics, underground culture, and popular culture, Parker is keenly tuned in to how people communicate. “My paintings are like big chatter because this is how we communicate. Instagram, for example. We get an overload of images, we get an overload of news, it’s like we live in a 24/7 news cycle. We barely have time to process information.” Perhaps to counteract the chatter, Parker also presents plank canvases whose collaged composition has been pushed to the sides and edges of the canvas revealing the hierarchical center of the canvas as a blank slate. Parker explains, “I pushed everything to the sides; put it on the edge because it is marginalized culture where we get the juice of culture. It is always on the margins.”
Parker was born in Stuttgart, Germany and studied at the University of Texas at Austin and SUNY Purchase, New York. Recent solo exhibitions include Too Mad to Be Scared at the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Focus: Erik Parker at the Modern Art Museum in Fort Worth, TX, and Upswing Dub Project, Pace Prints, NY. The artist has also participated in group exhibitions at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Phoenix Art Museum, and the San Antonio Museum of Art. And running concurrently with the exhibition is Parker’s installation at The Standard Hotel in Hollywood.