Jonathan Parsons “Zed’s Dead”

One would imagine that coming from Goldsmiths’ YBA generation that Parsons is firmly rooted in the conceptual rhetoric emerging from that school, so it is a particular pleasure to discover his consummately technical drawings and paintings in which he gives more than a passing nod to the seductive qualities that make painting so enduring, “One might ask why use a technique employed by medieval craftsmen – painting?  Simply because nothing else is both real in and of itself and the means by which one can model the rest of reality” and indeed it is so, one is reminded that the lavish food on a wealthy Dutch merchant’s table, the intricate embroidery and gossamer veil over a Renaissance duchess, are all simply the expert manipulation of paint. 


 For this exhibition work has been selected that highlights several aspects of Parsons practice and the links between them.  The new installation All is Vanity is based on the 7 by 5 dot matrix display format.   It is equally a play of material understanding and interpretation of words, as well as being literally a ‘sign’ appearing like an advertising hoarding.  The Disc paintings connect visually to the dot matrix and have a sculptural quality as they are made on birch ply, but the significance is on the liquid painting process such as brush marks and dripping. The drip patterns are automatically produced instead of being contrived but even these works are based on optical phenomena Parsons has ´observed´ and ´recreated´. The colours may look arbitrary but are not simply there for their pleasing aesthetics.  Read from the top down they set out the Berlin and Kay evolutionary sequence of basic colour terms. The Hazard drawings are based on photographs of found hazard tape meticulously drawn and coloured so that the original is a cipher.   These drawings also relate technically to the exhibition’s painting Zed’s Dead (a line from from the 1994 film Pulp Fiction) so-called as they reverse the figure-ground conventions and reject the idea of a picture as merely constituting a painterly composition.


Jonathan Parsons (b. 1970, England) works in London.  He studied at West Surrey College of Art and Design and received his BA from Goldsmiths’ College in 1992.  He has exhibited internationally, with solo exhibitions including at Aspex Gallery, Portsmouth (2008); Kontainer Gallery, Los Angeles (2005); England & Co with Jason Wallis-Johnson Percy Miller Gallery, London (2003); Richard Salmon (2002).  Recent Group exhibitions include: Mind the Map, London Transport Museum (until 28th October 2012); Commissions: Now and Then, Government Art Collection, Whitechapel Gallery (2012); Meanwhile, John Hansard Gallery, Southampton (2012); Abigail Reynolds and Jonathan Parsons: a Dialogue on Landscape and Constable, Salisbury Arts Centre (2011); Double or Quits, 335 Wick Road, London (2010); The Golden Record, The Collective Gallery, Lincoln and Edinburgh (2008-9); Jerwood Sculpture Prize, Jerwood Space, London (2007).  His work can be found in the Arts Council Collection, Government Art Collection, Norwich Castle Museum, The Leverhulme Trust and Saatchi Collection.



Duration 04 October 2012 - 24 October 2012
Times Private View 4 Oct 6-9pm | Open Weds-Sat 12-5pm
Cost Free
Venue The Arch Gallery
Address 289 Cambridge Heath Road London E2 9HA, ,
Contact 07973482697 / /

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