Erik Parker is a New York-based artist whose solo exhibition opens December 9, 2015 at Paul Kasmin Gallery in New York City. Parker recently had solo exhibitions at Honor Fraser in Los Angeles, the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Connecticut, and Pace Prints in New York City.
What prompted your early move from Germany to Texas?
My Dad was a Medevac Pilot in Vietnam and it had something to do with his training in Stuttgart. I am not sure I know the whole story. We moved to Texas when I was really young and I don’t really remember Germany–but I qualified for dual citizenship, so that’s cool!
You studied with Peter Saul at the University of Texas. What can you remember about his teachings on color and painting that was most influential for you?
I studied with Peter from 1992 to 1996. We never really talked about color, from what I can remember. We talked a lot about Diego Velazquez and also the sensuality of a picture. What was cool about Peter’s class is that he left everyone alone. On the first day of class he told everyone they had an A, whether they showed up or not. Also, there was a lot of room in the studio to paint big paintings.
What are your thoughts on figurative painting within the current state of painting now?
It’s cool to seeing more paintings that have stuff in them. You know, like a real picture. I gravitate to a subject in a painting and I like when I see paintings that move past Greenbergian Formalism into like a fractured funk.
What roles do imagination and visualization play in your creative process? Do you have any specific rituals or habits that are integral to your practice?
Imagination plays a pretty big role in my work. It’s like step one. I sometimes start with a word or phrase and try to paint it. If someone said, “Paint a picture of a policeman,” you’d have an idea of what that looked like. But what if they said, “Paint a picture of a tastemaker?” Or, sometimes I will see a picture of a really great river or swamp or beach and try to make it my way.
I really like to work twice a day. I usually get to the studio around 8:00 am and I leave around 5:00 pm. Then I go back around 7- 7: 30 till 10pm pretty much everyday. I wear the same studio clothes for each show. I like to chew Nicorette gum while I paint. I like to listen to Democracy Now before noon. I love WKCR 89.9 FM ‘s Eastern Standard Time radio show on Saturday morning.
Do you live with artwork? If so, by which artists?
We have been really lucky to acquire a lot of really great pieces either by trading or buying. Some of the artists up on the walls now are:
Kenny Scharf, KAWS, H.C. Westermann, Eddie Martinez, Adam Helms, Peter Saul, Raymond Pettibon, Royal Robertson, Ruth Root, Dana Schutz, Andy Warhol, Meredyth Sparks, Gavin Brown, Alexis Smith, Greg Bogin, Agatha Wojciechowsky, Djordje Ozbolt, Tomoo Gokita, Josh Smith, Austin Lee, Justin Lieberman, Scott King, Adam McEwen, Nancy Spero, and Nobuyoshi Araki.
We feel honored to live with them!
Is your preference for bright, flat color in your paintings something that carries over to the artwork you collect? Or is color a formal means to an end that is restricted to your own work?
No not at all, I like all kinds of stuff. I think color is just one ingredient in the whole bowl of soup.
Your third solo exhibition with the Paul Kasmin gallery opened December 9. What you can tell us about this new body of work?
I am super stoked on these paintings. There’s a real mix here. Some shaped-canvases, Heads, and landscapes! I added collaged elements and sprayed areas and all kinds of other stuff! I cant wait to see them in a super clean room. I hope you get a chance to check it out!