new-york

Ray Parker

School of Visual Arts

I saw some of Ray Parker’s early paintings for the first time in the show at the School of Visual Arts and they’re not what I would have expected. They reminded me most of Magritte’s pictures of floating rocks such as The Active Voice. Parker’s paintings have areas of paint somehow doing the same thing that Magritte’s rocks do.

Parker’s canvases are rectangular, predominantly vertical, white fields with one, two, or three lozenge-shaped areas of fairly dark color placed close to their centers; done between 1960 and 1962 they appear to form a sort of series though no mention was made of this. In a couple of instances, especially in #82 (1961) the lozenge shapes are placed so that they read almost as landscape elements, one as earth and the other as sky. But in #82, particularly the thickness and facture of the paint force the areas of color to be read as literal emblems of surface and depth.

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