AboutEleven is delighted to present new work by Martha Parsey in 'If 6 Was 9.' Garnering her inspiration from David Hockney's work from the 1960's, Parsey creates an alluring series of still lifes exploring the potential of colour and perspective.
The figure has always been central to Parsey's work as she develops the rest of the composition around her protagonist. In this new series, she gradually redefines and withdraws the figure shifting her focus instead to the still life featured. In the painting 'If 6 Was 9' (2012) she devotes equal consideration to the dense detail in both the rendering of the figure and the flowers - the bouquet bursts from the background, subtly pushing the figure to the side as they compete for attention. Parsey creates tension and inconspicuous narrative between the elderly woman and bright blossoming flowers. The soft lavender of the petals echo the woman's made-up eyelids and the veins of the leaves reflect the subtle patterning in the fur shawl as the artist directly lends the flora the same characteristics she imparts on her figure.
'If 6 Was 9' is an exploration of visual mechanisms through colour, perspective, reflection, light and shadow. Parsey selects objects which allow her to fully explore these artistic devices; like light beaming off a bright collection of pool balls or a flower's shadow unfurling across a surface. She also appropriates similar items which Hockney incorporated into his works like books nestled on table tops and coloured pencils as in 'Tulips and Pencils' (2012). Hockney, an avid sketcher, often allowed objects in his still lifes to re-emerge in other works and Parsey also repeats similar motifs throughout this new series between her paintings and sketches.
In keeping with Parsey's style, her figuration emerges from the neutral background of the raw canvas or crisp white paper creating a stark contrast between the heavy build-up of paint next to the untreated surface. Despite the reduction of the figure Parsey allows her still lifes to be infused with the same qualities she bestows her figures: dynamism, expression and vibrancy.
Martha Parsey was born in London in 1973 and lives and works in Cologne. Her paintings have been exhibited widely in solo exhibitions in Berlin, Cologne and London as well as the Museum Ludwig, Aachen. Her work is in a number of prestigious collections worldwide including the Ovitz Family Collection and the Zabludowicz Collection. Her documentary films on Francis Bacon, a collaboration with curator and art critic David Sylvester, have been screened at the ICA, the Hayward Gallery, the Centre Pompidou, Paris, and the Haus der Kunst, Munich.