Face to FACE with Graydon Parrish’s figurative realism between classicism and contemporaneity.

This post is also available in: it es

It is a mix of classic realism and contemporary realism the art of Graydon Parrish, American artist who will be among the great protagonists of FACE- Fine Art Convention and Expo, 2020, now in its fourth edition and which will take place this year in Baltimore from October 29th to November 1st.

Music by Graydon Parrish. Black and white chalk on blue paper.

Thanks to the imprinting given to him by his parents, collectors of nineteenth-century American and European art, Graydon had the opportunity to grow up having precise artistic references that influenced his taste, pushing him towards an academic-figurative art. It would be reductive, however, to define him as a classical figurative artist because his works are permeated by the influence of some of the greatest of art history, including William-Adolphe Bouguereau and Théodore Géricault, having evolved following a well defined and growing personal style also due to the influence of great contemporary artists among which Daniel Sprick (award-winning artist and celebrated with the release of an autobiographical DVD produced by Streamline Art Video, at FACE 2018), Odd Nerdrum and Jacob Collins, to name a few. After gaining him schooling at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Art Parrish earned his MFA at the New York Academy of Art, then just opened by Andy Warhol and Stuart Pivar. At the New York Academy of Art he joined other students who later became prominent figures in the revival of classical art, including Jacob Collins, founder of the Grand Central Academy of Art. There he met his mentor Michael Aviano, at the time student of illustrator and muralist Frank J. Reilly. 

det.Cycle of Terror and Tragedy, Sept.11, 2011. by Graydon Parrish. Oil on canvas, 104×42”.

Unsatisfied with his preparation, he earned a second BFA at Amherst College, specializing in independent studies with the thesis-presentation of the work: “Remorse, Despondence and Acceptance of an Early Death”, later acquired by the Mead Art Museum in Amherst, MA, which earned him the Cum Laude. From 1994 to 2008 Parrish worked in his studio in Amherst and in 2008 he moved to Austin, Texas to be close to his family and to contribute to the development of the interesting art scene in the city.  His works include allegorical nudes, portraits, still lives and real narrative scenes including: “The cycle of terror and tragedy”, commissioned in 2002 by Douglas Hyland, director of the New Britain Museum of American Art: an allegorical tribute to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.  The work, now on display in the Chase wing of the New Britain Museum of Art, is 18 feet long and is one of the greatest realist paintings ever created in America.

Study of a New York Woman by Graydon Parrish. Oil on panel, 15×18″. Austin Museum of Art.

But his work is not limited to production or teaching, his work is constantly evolving also thanks to the studies that led him to reshape the theories of color by Albert Munsell and Josef Albers, to adapt them to traditional methods of painting. Exhibited in numerous national museums including the Blanton Museum of Art and the Austin Museum of Art both in Austin, TX in addition to the already mentioned Mead Art Museum in Amherst and the New Britain Museum of American Art in New Britain, Connecticut, the works of the artist are also present in important private collections including that of Christopher Forbes and Paul and Melinda Sullivan.

Study of Carmen Dell’Orefice by Graydon Parrish, 2011. White chalk and charcoal on paper, 22.5×17.5”

The selected work impressed me with its grace and delicacy in the allegorical representation of piety. In the middle of the crowd in which everyone thinks for himself, unaware of who is next to him, unable to see and hear and completely enveloped by the routine that makes deaf and apathetic, pity, like a delicate and graceful dance step, which moves on the notes of a melody audible only to the chosen few, creates a situation within the situation. It is a sort of painting within the painting in which the frame dominated by white highlights emphasizes the precious faculty of the human soul.  Parrish represents pity in the physical act of embracing: the man and the woman united by pity, that is to say by the feeling of moved and intense participation and solidarity towards those who suffer and those who are weak are able to hear the melody and move with grace showing that pity is still able to put the sacredness of the human being at the centre of the world without distinction of race, sex or ideologists of any kind.  Hoping that this harmonious melody will be heard by more and more people, Graydon Parrish is waiting for you at FACE where you will have the pleasure of listening to him, admiring him in the making of one of his works or talking to him.

From the title: Pietà by Graydon Parrish. Oil on canvas, 7×6.5″. Private Collection.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *