NYC’s Erik Parker is a master stylist. In recent years, the artist’s work has become blue chip: his prints now sell through Pace Gallery, one of the biggies in New York and on the international scene.

Yet part of Parker’s crossover appeal is the way he marries outsider styles (graffiti, illustration, art brut) with traditional fine art narrative.

Early Parker works were decidedly DIY in style. His stacked layers of word-play and bust portraits were closely related to the illustrative style of Will Cullen Hart’s many album sleeves designed for the Elephant 6 Recording Co. Parker’s vision, however, was always slightly bigger.

The German-born artist’s distinct linesdrooping, dripping, fracturingremain an amalgam of influences, from Basil Wolverton to Jean Dubuffet. His colors, however, are more electrifying, even playful.

Whether painting a Lichtenstein-esque still life, a Rousseau-like forest, or a bust portrait, ala Picasso, the vibrancy of Parker’s palette transcends its many influences. The execution is too modern to be retro or traditional; the innate sense of looking and being looked at gives the portraits a deeper emotional resonance than mere illustration in service of narrative. Parker’s work pulls the viewer into a world that is as familiar and ephemeral as youth itself. (Brian Chidester)


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