New York

Ray Parker

Fischbach Gallery

Common to the recent paintings Ray Parker showed at Fischbach was the fact that they all tended to read inward without being spatial. Consequently they seemed to represent various strategies for getting from the edge to the center of the canvas without breaking the surface. Yet they were not really centrally focused; their concern seemed to be for maintaining that interiority of the painting’s surface which would secure the integrity of the painting as an entity, but not as an object. This they did quite well but not in such ways that one felt much to be at stake. The cutout forms that Parker has been using lately hover somewhere between Matisse and Arp and make a couple of the paintings read in an almost narrative rhythm. The definition of these forms, which sometimes involves smooth exchanges of figure and ground, gives the paintings an undercurrent of languor, almost of eroticism at times, which I think acts to subvert their potential toughness. Parker does seem to be involved with the problem of how to make a painting go, but the paintings themselves have something of the past tense about them; they seem to be going on momentum rather than their own impulse.

The choice of colors in Parker’s paintings seems to be dictated by the demands of design; the paintings tend to look like they’ve been designed in terms of values, hues being selected to reinforce flatness wherever possible by pushing laterally instead of forward or back. In short everything seems to have been seen to except the possibility of feeling as content; though they seem consistently to promise something, they never deliver.

Kenneth Baker