April 13 - May 08, 2010

Miranda Parkes




The grid is given a thorough going over in Miranda Parkes' latest exhibition, her first at Jonathan Smart Gallery, called Cracker.

Tanker (detail)A leitmotif with a long tradition in abstract painting, the grid as organising format in painting has rarely looked quite so theatrical or distressed as it does here. Take the key work Tanker, for example. Painted while flat, these careful squares of orange, blue and silver paint have not just been stretched, they've been folded into three dimensions. They've been given serious billow treatment. The effect is baroque and dramatic; a metallic crush from a distance, which  softens as an embrace closer up.


MozerMozer and Doozer are also grid paintings, but both began life with Parkes pouring paint onto boards. In so doing, their flat support is immediately lent subtleties of volume and texture.  Parkes then sets to with line and colour, overlapping and distending the grid, and pushing and pulling paint in ways that in Mozer recall the visceral rigour of say, Jean Debuffet. The joy of Mozer resides in its playful palette and importantly, in the suggestion of line billowed and voluminous. Tanker boasts a heavier materialism, though it too is lightened by its palette. There is in both works a directness and honesty - a way of visual thinking and process that is endearing and accessible to all.

DoozerIn Doozer, as in Tanker, the building blocks of the painting are little squares, but unlike Tanker, here they have open hearts. They swarm across the painting in different densities, with a kooky handheld quality sometimes reminiscent of Hundertwasser. This is the wayward or hippie grid. However, there is a sophisticated control of tone between ochre and yellow right across both figure and ground, which ties this painting together.

Jonathan Smart Gallery is pleased too, to present for the first time a DVD work by Miranda Parkes, called Jetty. Moving image work has been part of Parkes' visual research for some years now. This work, which is looped five minutes forwards, then five backwards, tracks sea water washing underneath and swilling up through a grid of steel placed as non-slip grip on a pontoon. Dimensions swell and volumes change within this exploration of the grid. There is a subtle and patient psychology at play here also. But in the end, throughout the work that comprises Cracker, Parkes' visual thinking is consistent, as she transitions from painting in three dimensions to more painterly illusions in two.

Selected works




Blob grid     Jiggle grid




List of works
1. Tanker               mixed media on canvas             1500 x 1500 x 450mm            
2. Mozer mixed media on board 1000 x 1000mm  
3. Doozer mixed media on board 1000 x 1000mm  
4. Blob grid mixed media on paper 570 x 570mm  
5. Jiggle grid mixed media on paper 570 x 570mm  
6. Zapper acrylic on ceramic 190 x 190mm  
7. Jetty DVD - 10 minute loop edition of 3  
All works are from 2010