Until the 16 of February Eleven Gallery in 11 Eccleston Street – London is hosting an exhibition by the British artist Martha Parsey. The name of her new collection is If 6 was 9 and the artist took her inspiration from David Hockey’s still lifes, concluded around 1960.
The artist aims to explore the possibilities of colours and perspective, but she brings Hockey’s inspiration one step forward. Figures have always been crucial in her paintings, from her debut in 1999. Martha Parsey has developed most of her compositions around her protagonist or protagonists. In this particular series she withdraws the figure shifting her main focus to the still life featured instead. The aim is to create a specific tension between flowers and figures.
In the painting above, entitled If 6 Was 9 (2012) she equalizes consideration to the dense detail in both the bouquet bursting from the background and the figure, an elderly woman with made-up eyelids. The flowers are echoing the person. The veins of the leaves reflect the subtle patterning in the fur shawl. There is a suggestive correspondence in the characteristics that Parsey imparts on her figure to those she uses for the still life.
By exploring visual mechanisms through colour, perspective, reflection, light and shadow, Parsey includes items which Hockney incorporated into his works like books nestled on table tops and coloured pencils as in Tulips and Pencils (2012) – below. Hockney often allowed objects in his still lifes to reappear in other works and Parsey uses the same motifs throughout this new series between her paintings and sketches.
Martha Parsey was born in London in 1973 and she currently lives and works in Cologne. Her documentary films on Francis Bacon, a collaboration with curator and art critic David Sylvester, have been screened at the ICA, the Hayward Gallery, the Centre Pompidou, Paris, and the Haus der Kunst, Munich.
Text by Matilde Casaglia
Artworks by Martha Parsey