Santiago Parra: Rising Action
Groundbreaking Colombian artist, Santiago Parra creates his own, visual language to tell his story in Rising Action, his ambitious, first UK solo exhibition at Mayfair's JD Malat Gallery from 16 November until 15 December.
In the show, Parra's 14 abstract pieces accomplish the ideal of Automatic Painting; authentically expressing himself in that precise moment and eliminating deliberation, composition and image construction in favour of pure impulse, speed and the energy of a single, honest brushstroke, which is never retouched.
Before his art education at Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá and the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, Parra studied Literature at Universidad Nacional de Colombia, and this is evident in the writerly elements of his calligraphy-like imagery.
Accordingly, Parra only paints in black and white, because he is interested in movement, and the black acrylic acts like copy in a book, recording the form of the sculptural brushstrokes on his large, white canvases in the simplest colours the eye can read.
He explained: "My painting is close to writing, and is closer to Automatic Writing. When I studied Surrealism in writing, the ideal was to truly write without any filters or limitations.
"They achieved this in writing, but their paintings were illustrations or representations of dreams, and not Automatic Paintings.
"Abstract Expressionists in the Fifties tried to revive the ideal with more success, but there was still a lot of deliberation and composition and their pieces often took years.
"For the first time, I have been able to make true, Automatic Paintings."
Unlike the Abstract Expressionists, Parra's pieces are completed in a single moment and brushstroke. However, this exhibition has taken a year to create, because Parra has to feel the will to paint, for them to be truly automatic - he cannot fake or force the process.
He added: "Painting is a language, each element within is discursive and enunciative. In my case, the brushstroke is the enunciative element. It embodies the concepts of freedom, strength, force, delicacy, balance, harmony, rage and beauty." Quoting Abstract Expressionist, Jackson Pollock, Parra concludes: "Every good painter paints what he is."
JD Malat Gallery founder, curator and world-renowned dealer, Jean-David Malat said: "Santiago Parra proves that less is more. The simplicity of his stroke, enhanced by the monochrome abstraction makes his work acutely compelling and timeless."
Parra was born in Bogotá, Colombia in 1986 and sold his first piece within a week at the age of 23, when his father hung it in his gallery. Since then, he has exhibited across the globe, throughout South America, the United States and Europe. The ideal that unites all of the pieces in this exhibition, is his goal to create the most honest and authentic work possible. Parra achieves this in what he describes as his "best show yet".
JD Malat Gallery will be selling 50 prints of Parra's work for £290 each, with the proceeds going to Macmillan Cancer Support.