ERIK RICHARD PARRA: Cardinal Shift
April 13, 2012, 7-10pm
Erik Parra thinks we could do better. He assays American culture and takes a critical stance. In this new body of representational paintings, he points his lens at concepts of success, prosperity, and conveyance, and focuses on where they collide.
Modernist design figures strongly in his work, not as an aesthetic choice, but as a narrative device. It makes appearances in architecture and furniture, and even in the formal application of paint. Parra is referencing Postwar America, a time and place filled with the promise of progress and prosperity, led by science. Looking back from our current vantage point, we can’t help but feel a longing for Yesterday’s Tomorrow, where Le Corbusier has cured our social ills with design, and smart scientists in white lab coats our physical ones.
It’s in this vein of thought (a sense of loss for a dream unrealized) that he explores issues of success. Using cultural signifiers of victory like parades, he antagonizes our inherited notions of triumph by presenting them in a detached, un-empathetic way. He is observing the spectacle from the outside– with no desire to join.
The trains, cars, and the general concept of modern conveyance that he presents make us aware of just how much they are entwined with cultural ideas of prosperity. And to what end? The postwar fixation on the automobile and the calculated demise of public transportation (a campaign by major oil companies) has resulted in dependency, a scarcity mentality, and perpetual oil wars.
Despite all this, Erik Parra’s stance is not one of a hopeless pessimist, but rather that of a faithful critic. His portrayal of America Now asks us to abandon those notions of success and victory that were handed to us by corporations in the 40s and 50s. What we choose to replace them with is up to us. We could do better.
Satellite66 is the newest gallery in San Francisco’s Central Market District, seeking to enrich the neighborhood with regular art exhibitions, and dedicated to showcasing emerging contemporary artists with a focus on craftsmanship, concept, and aesthetic. FOR GALLANTRY.
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