Erik Parker

About the Artist

Parker’s painting draws on references to widely differing periods and painters in the history of art – as well as to graffiti, animation and Street Art.

There is a direct affinity with the comic-strip-inspired energy of Peter Saul.  I know because we both took Saul’s painting classes at University of Texas.  I’m not going to pretend like we were best friends (just because he’s flying around the world chasing his one person shows). But I will say that I’ve been a fan since 1995 or so.  Erik and this other guy stood on buckets to reach the height of their large canvases.  Erik had massive dread-locks (at least in my memory) and was definitely the leader and the other guys was like his side kick. I’d be curious to see how the other guy’s work came out, or if he existed at all.

Now we get to the nectar of the story.  I was in an all American loud sports bar (I also had long red hair half way down my back).  We both did not fit but were there anyway and ended up at the bar together.  He had a black back-pack with him and started to pull out images of his paintings.  He had over a dozen completely full slide sheets of his work, and a desperation in his eyes.  He knew how to do one thing really well, and one thing only.  That was the gist of my faded memory.  Right then and there I made wishes for his success.  I would not have wanted to come across him if things didn’t work out.

Fast forward 5 years. I was working at Joyce Goldstein Gallery in SoHo (where is Joyce anyway?).  Erik comes into the gallery with that same black back-pack and this time he has rolls of paintings on paper.  He’s literally unrolling them on the gallery counter saying, “this one will fit right here behind the desk”.  Joyce Goldstein had told me a few weeks before that if the artist’s resume didn’t include a Yale MFA to not bother her.  Now here’s Erik showing up with original art and no resume.  I asked him to come back when Joyce would be in the gallery.  When she returned she was all over his paintings, practically drooling.  I was not completely surprised because his work was captivating.  It was word bubbles at the time, the images were secondary, mostly categorizing jazz and/or low – high art in a poet slam kind of way. Dave Hickey in motion.

One painting went up behind the desk and an other went on the wall in a group show.  Jerry Saltz came to the opening and said, “this guy is going to be famous.”  And soon he was…

That’s when I started also making wishes for his happiness.  He had a pet turtle the same time I did, and his turtle died.  13 years later, mine is under the stars in my backyard.  I told him straight up that if he didn’t get proper lighting for that turtle it would die.  It already had signs of mal-nutrition from lack of proper lighting.  He didn’t think putting down $50 for a better turtle set-up was an important step in his life at the time. For the sake of his daughter, I did.

Sorry to get personal here, but I wouldn’t say this publicly if I didn’t see a happy ending.  I do believe that Erik is living a balanced life.  He was in a transition period and I’d like to think his lack of abundance was the old and limitless possibilities was the next wave coming in.  I haven’t see him in years, but I do see his paintings. He is a solid, self-made man.  He pulled himself up by his own bootstraps, on the merit of his hand.  I don’t remember his story, but I think his childhood was rough and he was given an opportunity through his talent.

I saw a youtube video of an interview and he was quiet and unwavering.  The paintings say it all, but so does his smile.  The joke’s on us all – but he’s laughing with us not at us.  I leave this “to be continued” because we’re bound to pass each other at some point down the road.  It’s a small art world.

Guru, 2008-2009, acrylic on canvas,  251.5 x 228.6 x 7.6 cm

Stuck, 2009, acrylic on canvas, 109.5 x 101 cm

Hand to Mouth, 2009,  acrylic on canvas, 2  x162 x 111 cm

Shape Shift,  2009,  acrylic on canvas,  2 x 132 x 81 cm

More about the Artist

A visionary painter inspired by underground comics, graffiti, hip-hop, noise music, and conspiracy theories, as well as the art of Picasso, Bacon, and Basquiat.

Erik Parker at Honor Fraser Gallery

Erik Parker at Paul Kasmin Gallery

Erik Parker at Faurschou, Copenhagen


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