Interview: Jason Parker
Where some would view shyness as a social hindrance, artist Jason Parker has used it as a frame within which to build a melancholic painting style that defines his art and – to some extent – his life.
Makers first met Jason in a shared creative studio after spying samples of his work resting half-complete. Painted in oils, the studies of his subjects are stirring for a suspended sense of loneliness.
Jason: “People are the main story in my work. I’m obsessed with watching my fellow man, I love watching interactions between groups of friends and I often find myself staring at people until it becomes…maybe creepy. I think it’s because I’m such an introvert that I feel a bit of a disconnect and by painting them it creates a connection in you to something bigger.”
There is a fine nuance to the tone of his canvases that is wrought by the creative tension between painter and subject. Caught in benign poses, one is never sure if the sense of menacing emotional darkness depicted is the state of the study, or the projection of the artist.
It’s a conflict Jason himself is open in recognising
Jason: “I attach my own sense of loneliness and vulnerability to the subjects. Whether that comes from the subjects I choose or whether that is me putting my stamp on them, that’s hard to say. What I can say is there is a recurring theme of loneliness and longing in my works.”
Having only recently made the transition from acrylics to oils, the 25-year-old is still deep in the process of defining his artistic voice and developing his craft: trained as a graphic designer, he is in the process of consciously moving away from compulsions to create beautiful composition and instead to work on production of pieces that hold the essence of a feeling derived – not from the subject – but from his subconscious.
The response to his vision, so far, has been encouraging: having last year rented a space to show his work, the selling of some 80 percent of paintings exhibited served to strengthen his self-belief. One must imagine it’s a spark that continues to flame as others within the Melbourne art scene also begin to take an interest: on July 25, his paintings will be on display at Off The Kerb gallery and studios on Johnstone Street in his first commissioned exhibition.
Jason: “I’m turning 26 this year so I’ve taken a huge step back to reassess what I want to do and – with art – it’s almost like, if I don’t give it a go now it will never happen for me. I guess all of this affirms that this is what I should devote myself towards."