ANTHONY J. PARKE
Anthony J Parké is a British artist, born in London, England, using a combination of classical and hyperrealistic styles.
Parkés' work is held in private collections in the USA, Canada, England, Russia, Israel and Belgium.
'Deus Ex Machina' Series
Drawing inspiration from the history of fine art and specific iconic paintings within it, as well as referring back to key autobiographical events, I appropriate certain characters portrayed in paintings from the classical and neo-classical periods. In each instance, the situation and characters explored appear to have succumbed, or are soon to succumb, to a tragedy of some sort.
My aim is essentially to generate alternative outcomes in these paintings; to remodel historical events, stories and myths within art history, with the sole intention of yielding a more personal, psychologically satisfying outcome.
The inspiration for rewriting of certain events comes from a device from ancient Greek tragedian play. The ‘Deus ex Machina’ (DeM), translated, means ‘God from the Machine’. This device was designed to ensure irresolvable events ended with a more favourable outcome for certain individuals. This was achieved on the play’s stage by lowering a ‘God’ from a machine (crane) onto the stage. I utilise the concept of this device by creating my own Deus ex Machina in my paintings. Her role is to create an alternative outcome for the character within the paintings; she does this through action and symbolism.
A good example of DeM in practice, is Euripides' play Medea. Medea leaves her homeland and follows Jason out of love. In time Jason scorns Medea, and she is overlooked, as he marries another in favour of her. In her bitterness, Medea kills their children. Distraught, Jason seeks revenge for the horror inflicted on their children. Almost certain death awaits Medea for her crime. However, before Jason can reap his revenge, the sun god arrives and carries Medea into the skies. There she looks down on a broken Jason.
So how do I employ this device? The selected figures I use have certain attributes: they are invariably male, and they appear to be caught up in a tragic event of some description. Importantly too, unlike Medea, I perceive an innocence and beauty in them. Their suffering is alleviated, mostly through symbolic means, with the appearance of a DeM represented in female form. I appropriate figures from paintings such as, William Bouguereau’s The Flagellation of Christ, Merry-Joseph Blondel’s The Fall of Icarus, Gerrit van Honthorst’s Saint Sebastian, Gericault’s The Raft of Medusa, etc. All of these paintings hold a fascination for me due to the personalities who inhabit them. These figures are specifically chosen because for me they resonate with the suffering of my own brother, ‘K’.
K. came into this world seemingly innocent and beautiful, as did many of the characters in the paintings I use. Yet later in life, he began to suffer, lost in a sea of psychological turbulence. K's illness sent him spiralling into a world of visions and voices. No doctor or medical establishment could extract him from his suffering. He needed something greater. But nothing ever came - not even a Divine intervention. As a family we too were embroiled in the horror and the suffering. As a young brother, I wanted more than anything for someone, or something, to extract us this tragedian play we were caught in.
Each of the personalities represented in my paintings are all representations of K and his suffering - in a multitude of guises. The motivation is an altogether irrational one: in alleviating the turmoil of the characters in these paintings, I attempt the alleviating of the suffering of K’s life, both past, present and future.
The figurative symbolism of my female Deus in my paintings is designed to evoke the possibility for change. Her role is to ensure a tragedy need not remain a tragedy. On a less esoteric note, these paintings are about the human capacity to continue in the face of adversity. That when the world appears to be falling apart, there exists a glimmer of hope, a possibility for change. In this scenario, it is feasible that one can escape the seemingly inescapable. These are paintings which testify to the human capacity to overcome insurmountable odds – for a ‘Deus’ can appear in everyday circumstances, in a multitude of guises, ready to change one’s world.
I have currently begun the early stages of this new series of paintings by appropriating the figures from William Bouguereau’s, The Flagellation of Christ, Merry-Joseph Blondel’s, The Fall of Icarus, and Gerrit van Honthorst’s, Saint Sebastian.
'Future Reveries' Series
The series of paintings entitled ‘Future Reveries’ revolve around the themes of Loss and Union. They explore an imaginary dimension where ‘unfulfilled futures’ lay awaiting reclamation.
Through a debilitating illness my elder brother never realised his potential future. His world of possibilities remained in a sense, stillborn. Who would he have become? is the motivation for this series. So I create a world filled with a symbolism associated with his possible future outcomes.
This world is experienced through a circular ‘portal’, or lens. Within this portal a female presence becomes a collaborator on this journey, bridging the material and immaterial, or specifically the world of loss and the world of future possibilities.
Through these paintings I look for a sense of union; I look to reveal meaning and insight into an imaginary existence, to navigate, explore, and inquire into a world of alternative outcomes.
For me, there is a sense that these imaginary depicted futures are no longer dormant, that having been explored and revealed on the canvas, they somehow exist; that having been painted into this world, they have been reclaimed, and in a sense ‘returned’ to their owner.
In painting these imaginary futures, they also become my real future, and so ultimately both brother’s futures, and in this simple act a union between brothers is born afresh.
'Glass Preservation' Series
The theme running through this series of paintings is that of the capturing and preserving objects of interest, specifically the preservation of natural objects of beauty.
Objects within these paintings are commonly found in the traditional still life genre: leaves, fruit, shells, sea life, flowers, and other natural organic materials. All these objects are placed in glass vessels of various shapes and sizes.
The glass vessels begin as compositional devices: they create an external harmony offsetting any discord arising from the use of multiple, complex arrangements
The glass vessels also act as a metaphorical means of capturing and preserving objects of beauty. Like specimen jars at the Natural History museum preserve organic forms, my 'jars' preserve objects of beauty and fascination.
Additionally they invert a childhood meaning where glass came to symbolise the destruction of beauty as an ill brother destroyed all things related to glass and subsequently the 'beauty' of childhood.