These four large works are a melodic addition to Parker’s Plain Song repertoire.
The Plain Song series has come to represent the entire fundamental of JS Parker’s work containing recognisable compositional unities of balance, harmony, tonal congruence and a signature architectural use of space. The series is about a visual phenomena observed in nature, sensory experience, the geological structure of the landscape in its relationship to horizon and sky where the formal geometric shape and symbiotic colour “are translated into purely abstract painterly expression in which the element of ‘imitation’ is entirely subordinated to the compositional and constructional demands of the image.” (1)
“Nature and music have played complementary roles as inspiration for John Parker’s painting. His works could be described as abstraction grown from observation.” The Plain Song series, for which he is best known, was begun in the late 1980s. The title alludes to the medieval Gregorian chant, and the shapes of the Canterbury and Marlborough ‘plains’ which provide inspiration and puns on the two-dimensional ‘planes’ of the Cubists and it conveys plainness as opposed to embroidery, exaggeration or busyness. Parker has always been drawn to emotive rather than hard-edged art and believes in eliminating in painting any obstacles to the spirit: “If your painting’s going to have a language, it’s got to be felt. It’s a physical thing.” (2)
“Parker works are always texturally exciting, as he plasters layers of thick paint on to the canvas until he has built his own idiosyncratic spectrum of rich, well-nourished colours.” (3) He flattens and layers his colours to create a depth and luminosity which pulsates throughout the graduated tones of his compositions.
1. Peter Simpson, “Plain Song Journey Through,” Art New Zealand 67, Winter 1993.
2. Elizabeth Caughey and John Gow, Contemporary New Zealand Art 2, David Bateman Ltd, Auckland, 1999.
3. Nicola Mutch, “Even impasto can shimmer,” Otago Daily Times, 1999.