About the Artist
Michael Parks - Magical Realist. What is unusual about Michael Parkes is that in his images metaphysical and spiritual elements are joined into reality. His work evokes a mysterious atmosphere, which can often only be deciphered with the help of ancient mythology and eastern philosophy. In the fantasy world of Parkes, the laws of earthly reality are abolished, and space and time enter into their own motionless communion. It is tempting to speak of a dream world with Parkes, if it were not for the fact that the 'dream world' of Michael Parkes surpasses all of our dreams in audacity, freedom and intensity. In short, in Michael Parkes, the figurative art of our age has found a new, fascinating and extremely authentic exponent. As human beings, we limit our sense of perception to what is generally comfortable and present in everyday life. In limiting our perceptions to suit our individuality, we miss the vastness of other perceptions and the doors they represent. Though we have been conditioned to perceive nothing except our own world, this does not mean we cannot enter other realms. - Michael Parkes Born in 1944, Michael Parkes studied graphic art and painting at the University of Kansas and then traveled for three years through Asia and Europe. In 1975, Michael Parkes settled in Spain, where he now lives. Throughout his career, numerous international exhibitions underline the importance of Parkes' work. Michael Parkes is both a uniquely talented painter and master of the art of original stone lithography. Michael Parkes is the world's leading Magical Realist. He is a painter, a sculptor, and a stone lithographer. His more than 30 years of success as a fine artist stand out in the art world, where fewer than 1% of artists ever achieve success in both the primary and secondary markets. Parkes' works are collected by celebrities, important private collectors, and museums around the world, and his body of work has stood the test of time. That being said, Parkes' continues to create new works, all of which are widely sought after. Exhibitions: Michael Parkes has had one-man exhibitions at the Basel Art Fair in Switzerland, Art Chicago, New York Art Expo, Frankfurt Book Fair, Amsterdam Art Fair, Tefaf Art and Antiques Fair Maastricht and is represented by prestigious galleries in Amsterdam, Paris, Denmark, Italy, New York, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, and around the United States. In 2007, Michael was the guest of honor and featured artist in the international show "Venus and the Female Intuition," exhibited in Denmark and Holland . Also in 2007, Michael Parkes' work inspired a contemporary ballet production by Scorpius Dance Theater of Phoenix, where his art came alive in the ballet's sets and characters. Place in Art History John Russell Taylor, art critic for the London Times and art contributor to The New York Times, says: "Compare [Parkes] with even the best of them, such as Mobius of Theo van den Boogaard, and the difference is immediately apparent. His technique is more painterly, his imagination much less tied within the confines of narrative. In fact, narrative is the last thing one thinks of, confronted with one of Parkes' images. Parkes, like Alma-Tadema, has developed outstanding skill in the rendering of veined marble and the textures of various fabrics as they cling to or fall from the curves of his remote yet inviting female figures." "With Parkes we may be reminded, now of some Victorian, now of Botticelli, now of Tiepolo, now (though much more infrequently) of Goya. But all of these, though Parkes has undoubtedly observed them, have been absorbed into an entirely modern sensibility. If we were looking for a twentieth-century stalking horse, we might well look to Surrealists like Dali and Magritte." "There is one important distinction, however. In Surrealism, there is always a sense of stress and [the] blues beneath the smooth and soigné surface. Maybe there was a touch of that in Parkes at the beginning of his latest phase: the clowns and dwarfs could seem threatening, not all the animals had their claws safely sheathed. But Parkes always seemed to be at least hankering after calm and tranquility, and in his latest works he has achieved it." Personal History Parkes could draw even before he could read and write. He was an only child, raised in Canalou , Missouri , a typical American Midwest town in the fifties. He attended art school where he met the woman, artist and musician to whom he remains married more than three decades later, Maria Sedoff. Parkes taught college level Art History as the young couple made their way in the Vietnam era. Parkes has been a serious and lifelong student of spirituality and esoterica. Together in the 1970's, Michael and Maria set off on a spiritual journey where they found excellent teachers and a lifelong passion for India . Returning to Spain soon after their only daughter was born, Michael and Maria worked together to form a financially stable venture in art, beginning with humbly making and selling leather belts to tourists to achieving the internationally prestigious recognition as a master that Parkes enjoys today. Parkes remains humble and as much like your favorite neighbor as the sage weaver of myth and dreams whom we know through his art. Ultimately forming a publishing company to independently represent his art work, Michael and Maria now live and work in Spain . Swan King International is now Parkes' exclusive publisher and distributor of his creative works. Master Painter Michael Parkes' rare original paintings pair exquisite beauty with technical perfection. The viewer is drawn first to the impossibly pure elegance of Parkes' paintings and then is transported to a world of repose, magic, myth and dreams. Even the most fantastic angel or beast is endowed with credible anatomy under Parkes' meticulous brush. The attention to detail in Parkes' paintings and the tremendous time invested in creating each of these art treasures is rare in a world where so many artists rush to paint a high volume of work to meet commercial demand. Simply put, Parkes will not be rushed. He paints very few paintings each year. Master Sculptor Michael Parkes has a high degree of sensitivity to the special qualities and requirements of each individual medium he uses, whether it be drawing, painting or sculpting. His sculptures are more robust and more substantial than the slender elegance of his drawn and painted women of beauty. The sense that the sculptures created by Michael Parkes actually exist in real life is very strong; you may have never encountered a person or a creature like this, but the evidence of their weight and substance is so convincing that who can doubt they really exist somewhere. For Michael Parkes, his sculptures are intended to be self-sufficient individual works of art. They carry a special weightless quality and character. They are uplifting and seem counter to the very solid medium of bronze. Parkes uses the ancient "Lost Wax" bronze casting method - a medium that has withstood the test of time, visually telling the tale of past cultures, their religions and their social structures. The bronze castings of today are essentially the same method as was used for over 4,000 years. This timeless bronze sculpting technique is somehow reflected in the timelessness of his art. Master Lithographer Michael Parkes' ability to draw a firm line around his ideas is one of his greatest gifts - and absolutely essential for the demanding discipline of the stone lithography. Parkes began in the early 1980s making hand-pulled original stone lithographs, drawing them in the traditional manner directly onto the stone. He has always been attracted to the immediacy of stone lithography, a process invented by Senefelder in 1798. The medium is very intolerant of mistakes. The artist needs to know exactly what he wants to do and exactly how to do it. Parkes' stone lithographs can use as many as 14 colors and traditionally that would mean 14 different stones, but over the years Parkes created a technique where he used two or three stones to produce the same results. The image for each new color is drawn on the stone and in doing so, the previous color-image is completely erased and irretrievable. You cannot backtrack for correcting or adding to a previous color already printed. It makes the process much faster but the safety net is gone. To many artists this is terrifying and they refer to it as the suicide run. To Parkes, it is a stimulating challenge that he loves to meet - one of the reasons for his 30 year love affair with stone lithography. Parkes is a rare living master of this art form. Sketches | Drawings | Studies For years I simply sketched on a canvas or board and then created the painting over my sketching. But after doing stone lithography, another element was added to my work...working on vellum. In the process of stone lithography the design of the litho is first drawn on vellum, a transparent paper. I then can erase, work on both sides, reverse it, and so on. I liked the medium so much that today I use vellum for my preliminary sketches before I transfer the image to a canvas for a finished painting. It is interesting for me to have this record of the thought process when looking back over my work. And for this very special one man show I will add preliminary sketches and sketch paintings to show how the finished paintings evolve. Fine Art Editions The Aurographics/Giclee Collection brings fine museum quality reproductions of Michael Parkes' work to a wider audience. This Collection includes mixed media prints, giclée prints, and other reproduction mediums. Michael works directly with the premier atelier in Holland to create high resolution digital images. At times, Michael will personally make changes directly in the digital imagery to make the giclée print unique. Other times, the original is reproduced exactly. Depending on the effect that Michael desires to achieve for the new work, the prints are printed with archival quality inks onto canvas or archival paper. Giclée prints are gaining widespread acceptance and auction value generally, and appear in several prestigious museum collections, including those of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Museum of Modern Art. The prints in the Swan King International collection represent the highest quality of giclée prints available.