Thursday, December 06, 2012

Don Parr

White Wing * - 2012
3’x8’. Wood frame covered with silk on acrylic painted panel. repost

Flying machine genre paintings have fallen out of favor in contemporary art, I think mostly because no one has been creative enough to merge the aesthetics of modern painting styles with the image of flight. Sure, Rauschenberg and Rosenquist depicted flight, but more in a broad cultural brush. John Chamberlain was a contemporary car genre artist, who smashed up vehicles into interesting objects. But somehow the subject of airplanes has not managed to take off the same way as the car genre has, until now when along comes Don Parr.

Frontier of Flight Museum has on display, Don Parr’s minimal streamline paintings/objects. These works seem to come right off the planes and yet speak to the power of contemporary minimalist style of art. Planes were born in the middle of the Modernist period, and by design these machines continued to become more efficiently aerodynamic.

Because these painting/objects directly reflect parts of planes, it comes as no surprise that Parr’s images seem to cut through air and you can feel a sense of calm wind that lifts the viewer up to feel a little lighter. In each work, I sense a real spirit of adventure and a feeling of flight, but without the need to create a story like a traditional genre paintings attempt to achieve. He doesn’t point to a particular model of airplane, but instead each painting takes on the soul of a particular era of flight. This allows Parr to give you the feeling and emotion of flying, without limiting your own imagination through purely illustrating a type of aircraft.

“J3 Wing,” a wood and silk span construction on acrylic painted canvas, looks almost like a trophy from a pilot’s flight. It is as if the pilot took the wing home and mounted it to a wall. But, then you look and you get a lot more than just a trophy. With the bright yellow strip, you get a sense abstract speed. The white background implies airflow, but also acts as an abstract color field. “Black Boxes” looks to be more like a musing on Josef Albers work, rather than anything airplane related. A system of threes is in the work, and Parr creates a beautiful hard edge image.

Of course, showing in a flight museum does over emphasise the content, but what better place to celebrate the feeling of flying. Plus you can see a few other gems like the Apollo 7 module or any number of aircraft. You will find his work at the Flight Museum, Mezzanine Gallery. Don Parr’s show “Vectors: Abstractions in Aviation Art” will be up until October 26th. for more images.

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