Summer may be quickly fading away, but German-born artist Erik Parker has brilliantly immortalized the feeling of the endless summer in his new series of paintings, Bye Bye Babylon, up now at Paul Kasmin Gallery on 10th Avenue. On view in the gallery are eleven of Parker’s 2012 still-life and jungle-landscape paintings, which all incorporate vibrant, fluorescent colors and fun, almost cartoonist shapes. Some of Parker’s images reminded me of the wildly hallucinatory animation on Adult Swim’s subversive series, SuperJail. If you’ve seen that show, and see Parker’s work in this exhibit, you will know what I mean by that comparison
Updating these traditional art-historical genres through the pictorial idioms and sly humor of satirical cartoons, psychedelia and underground comic books, Parker’s paintings provide vistas into brilliantly colored worlds of semi-sentient flora and idiosyncratic geometries.
For Parker, creating the jungle paintings provides him with a way to escape into custom-made exotic locales without having to leave his Brooklyn studio.
New Bimini Trail
He draws inspiration from the imaginary landscapes of Henri Rousseau — who never left his native France, and Joseph Yoakum — who mixed his memories of his own travels into his visualizations of unknown cities and countries. In Parker’s fantastical scenes, fleshy, claw-like leaves and snaking vines part to reveal panoramas of placid rivers and distant mountains.
Lending a sense of tongue-in-cheek surrealism to Parker’s compositions, the leaves and vines cast unrealistic shadows onto the sea and sky behind them. Following the logic of cartoons and dreams, these jungle scenes and still-life paintings feel seductive and eerie; visually sensible but also askew.
Trust me that photos cannot fully capture the intensely bright colors of these canvases. If you’re intrigued at all, do make it over to Paul Kasmin while the show is up.
Erik Parker’s Bye Bye Babylon will be on exhibit through October 13, 2012 at Paul Kasmin Gallery, Located at 293 Tenth Ave, Street Level, New York City. Gallery Hours are Tuesday – Saturday, 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM.