Jonathan Parker | Sewn
Jan 30 – Mar 21, 2020
Robischon Gallery features four, concurrent solo exhibitions by artists Deborah Zlotsky (NY), Ted Larsen (NM), Jonathan Parker (NM) and Scott Chamberlin (CO). Each of the artists investigate abstraction through their primary means of painting and sculpture in large to notably small scale. The artworks on view reveal an uncommon eye toward composition, color and materiality while revealing a sense of humor and an engagement with, and a pursuit of, the experimental.
Robischon Gallery is pleased to present its first solo exhibition by New Mexico artist Jonathan Parker. His works of painted, cut and sewn canvas stitched onto stretched unprimed canvas are created abstractly with an organic geometric sense, either pared down or built in a complex layered manner. Each constructed painting has a visually tactile quality stemming from the materiality of painted and raw canvas elements with their frayed or over-sewn edges. In-keeping, certain elements are created by a cut-away that reveals an underlying and alternate color beneath, while other passages are built by pleating the canvas into a raised seam. The fabric serves as the structure for the artist’s intuitive hand which is apparent in every stitched line or decision made about the spare formal aspects. Composed thread by thread, each composition is slowly revealed, like the discovery of a drawn mark which is visible on the verso of every work or inviting the viewer to follow each stitch of the pieced together canvas elements, sewn bit by bit like a patchwork. Parker states, “I feel these small pieces rely on the material to make them shine - often the beat up or marked canvas and the raw or rough feeling they produce. That is not to discount my shapes, which can be rather minimal or a little more complicated, depending on where the work takes me. My pieces include elements of drawing, painting and more provisional approaches like mending and appliqué.” Such as in the pieced, painted black round-edged element of SC #183 where a figure/ground equilibrium is readily seen from afar, it can then be discovered upon closer examination that the work takes on new dimension with the variety of discrete patchwork elements stitched together to assemble the black form. Parker states, “My own intention is at the heart of each piece I make, but ultimately, each painting speaks its own language. When I make art, I have something to say, however, when I stand before a finished work, it has something to say to me. And if the painting works, it speaks not in my voice but in a universal language.”
The artist has been incorporating sewing into his work for over twenty years with more direct emphasis on the process since 2016, although now with a more formal approach. Parker adds, “I rely on the physical qualities of my materials — canvas that is stained or marked, with raw cut edges that have a rough feeling — to evoke different associations. The invented shapes are important elements in my compositions; they can be minimal or more layered and complicated, depending on where the work takes me. My default approach is that less is more, but occasionally I recognize that a piece requires more than less, so I follow the direction the work in progress suggests, participating in the discovery and development it inspires.” This artistic instinct is evident in each of Parker’s constructed paintings. In the work entitled SC #182 which is comprised of bright yellow-green, pink, black and gray elements joined in a rounded shape, it is made more complex with the visible brushwork of one shape in contrast to the solidity of the black or charged yellow of another. The subtle tonalities of black and grey in the larger SC #184 expands its abstraction through materiality. The artist states, “This work seems to have a loose vocabulary that repeats itself from time to time, but it is more subconscious for me rather than a specific intent to make work that looks similar. Recently, working with box-like structures with deeper sides, has given me another plane to work with, so that my pieces have become more dimensional or object-like, with detail wrapping around the sides.”
Parker elaborates, “My intention is not to make serial work; instead I repeat or elaborate using a loose, invented visual vocabulary of forms, trusting my subconscious to guide these repetitions and elaborations so that the forms evolve into variations. These variations develop into their own distinctive sub-series within this larger, ongoing body of “sewn paintings.” People tell me that the shapes I use suggest machines, organs, tools, utensils and aerial views. I work by intuition or feeling, using a sensibility I’ve developed over time to guide me, rather than my critical mind. In this way I’ve eliminated some of the internal thinking, which for me can get in the way. I do my work, one piece at a time, trying to have no expectations — just an open heart for what is to come.”
Jonathan Parker’s work is in the permanent collection of the Oakland Museum of California, CA, and in private and corporate collections including the David & Lucile Packard Foundation and Kaiser Foundation. Parker has been recognized with numerous honors including: Painting Residency and Painting Fellowship, Djerassi Residency Artists Program, Woodside, CA, Artist in Residency, Kala Institute (Printmaking), Berkeley, CA, Painting Residency, Atlantic Center for the Arts, New Smyrna Beach, FL, Painting Residency, Blue Mountain Center, Blue Mountain Lake, NY, Affiliate Artist Program, Headlands Center for the Arts, Sausalito, CA, a painting residency/fellowship at Yaddo, Saratoga Springs, NY and a San Francisco Bay Regional Painting Fellowship, Fleishhacker Foundation, San Francisco, CA. His work has also been featured in the Pacific Coast edition of New American Paintings. Parker’s work has been widely exhibited nationally in California, Washington, New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Maryland and New York along, with a solo exhibition in Berlin, Germany. Parker will be a featured exhibition at the New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe, NM in April 2020.