J S (John) Parker's art is one of “accretion, of steady accumulating gestures that together create the effects his practice seeks to achieve. The power of Parker's painting is cumulative; a series of small gestures that gather speed. This is true at the level of an individual work, patiently constructed from layers of colour and the careful mosaic of palette knife marks that spreads across the surface, and it is true of his oeuvre, his body of work as a whole." (1)
Parker’s “gift lies in his use of colour, and in the balance he achieves within each painting. Alongside nature, music is the other source of inspiration and Parker’s paintings can bring to mind the interweaving of melody and harmony. He has said that he seeks to extract the essence of the spirit of classical music, and to fix it in his work.” (2) 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.” (3)
J S Parker was born in Auckland, New Zealand in 1944. In 1966 he was awarded a Diploma of Fine Arts (Honours) from the School of Fine Arts, University of Canterbury. Parker exhibited regularly since 1967 and his work is held in many public and private collections in New Zealand and internationally. He painted full-time since he was awarded the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship in 1975. In 2002, Parker was awarded the ONZM in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in recognition of his services to painting over the previous four decades (4). He lived and worked in Marlborough until his death in August 2017.