October 10, 2007

Steve Parrino's sex and death paintings

Steve Parrino, Gagosian Gallery, New York, NY. Through Nov. 3.

Gagosian presents Steve Parrino's paintings, drawings and sculpture. Parrino died in a New Year's morning motorcycle accident at the age of 46 in 2005. "When I started making paintings the word on painting was 'PAINTING IS DEAD,'" Parrino said. "I saw this as an interesting place for painting… death can be refreshing, so I started engaging in necrophilia….. Approaching history in the same way that Dr. Frankenstein approaches body parts… Nature Morte… my contemporaries were NO WAVERS… BLACK FLAG-ERS… and this death painting thing led to a sex and death painting thing… that became an existence thing… that became a 'Cease to Exist' thing… A kind of post-punk existentialism. I am still concerned with 'art about art', but I am also aware that 'art about art' still reflects the time in which it was made. Content is not denied… Content is not obvious… Content is sustained in the air or the vibe of the work."

In the Village Voice, R.C. Baker reports: "These works combine the stiffness of erection with the frenzy of the 'little death,' followed by the flaccid realization that you didn't flame out at the height of ecstasy after all but are left to grub around for your next wild ride. In this scrumptious show of slashed, bent, and twisted canvases, you can feel Parrino manhandling postwar art movements—Pollock's gestural dance, Stella's monochromes, Warhol's fabulous fatalism—with a lover's passion."Read more.

In New York Magazine, Jerry Saltz writes that "overestimating Parrino would be as much a disservice to him as underestimating him would. He wasn’t a radically original artist. But he was radically dedicated to his narrow idea of what painting could be. He may have talked about death and nihilism, and he wore a black leather jacket everywhere, but Parrino didn’t want to annihilate painting.... He vividly demonstrates that no matter what you do to a canvas—slash, gouge, twist, or mutilate it—you can’t actually kill it. Painting lives, and so, for the moment, does Parrino’s work." Read more.