Anthony J. Parke
'Artists can enter into the recesses of the unfathomable pit of human existence, and completely fail in their attempts to extract any kind of reality there.'
The work of Anthony J. Parke is intricately and deeply layered in symbolism and meaning. He references psychopathological scenarios, Jungian theories, biblical stories, myths and iconography as well as anomalies in his search to explore the human condition. His work is held in collections across the UK and internationally.
How has your style evolved and what contributed to the changes?
In general my work has grown more psychologically complex and darkly labyrinthine. As such it has revolved into something more authentic in its reflection of my inner obsessions and complexes. I mostly turn to a broader spectrum of human psychopathology for stimulus. I now lean closer to the existential concerns of the destitute mind rather than the leafy, suburban still lives which infested early works. If you metaphorically slice open a human’s psychic entrails they are no less beautiful than the demure skin which encases it. So I paint skin and the metaphorical entrails with equal desire and fascination.
What is your favourite/ least favourite part of the creative process?
Every element is a fascinating and essential journey. I don’t really differentiate between each element. They merge into an holistic, beautiful performance: from creating concepts, to research, to applying active imagination, to dalliances with madness - it is all essential, and each element possesses an irrefutable value which has an abiding allure. Describe a moment you had an epiphany concerning your creative life.
It was the day I realised I didn’t need permission to create. Having been expelled from art school I regarded that as a death sentence to a creative life. When many years later I saw beyond this, I felt supremely empowered to create freely and authentically. Since then I’ve had a deep distrust and dislike of artistic institutions for their inability to cater for the socially unique.
Detail a moment which was the highlight for you, thus far.
The day my gallery rejected my new work. That day I was reborn into an authentic skin, exfoliated from the skin of pretence, commercialism and pretty hyperrealism. Another highlight has been my perfect, abject failure in the world of art, such that I’ve been thrust to the outer extremes, free and unencumbered to create beyond fear of any external pressures. What do you hope to convey through your work?
An apocalyptic social underbelly reflecting the complex psychopathology of human existence. Having been raised in the psychotic, delusional world of an elder sibling, raised in the horrors of insanity, I have come to love the debauched and the deluded and prefer to seek out psychologically marvellous personalities as though they were distant relatives. Confronting the sane and sanitised are ideal for afternoon tea, but offer little in the way of stimulation for the creation of my artworks. How would you like people to interpret your work?
Everything I do is fabricated in a make believe world that is constructed out of implausible thoughts and gauzy materials. It’s never been enough for me to leave an audience entirely to their own devices when interpreting this fabricated world. Without an artist’s meaning in a work there is a heavy void. You cannot create a good film without a keen script, an efficient director, and intellectual intent. This is what makes filmmaking so powerful and unrivalled. Art is always first and foremost about the artist, their images and ideas, not the general reveries of the unknown audience.
The audience’s interpretation should always follow and be guided by the artist’s primary expression. I always look to attempt to release a percentage of the meaning of my work. I cannot paint without writing about it first. Words precede painting. In an unstable world it is quite-likely a pointless attempt to control; to order the unfathomable nonsense of my disparate thoughts. Such are the remnants of an out-of-control childhood borne into chaos. Control. By offering a certain degree of meaning I seek to ensure a willing audience travels (at least in part), on my chosen journey. From there, they can deviate at will. It is true, left to their own devices their own interpretation may be far richer than that of the artist’s. As such the artist may delimit such interpretation by strangling a work with their own limited meanings. But that should not be the concern of the artist. We should rarely paint for an external world (an audience), rather, paint for one’s own internal audience. That is the source of authenticity. While your art may be repetitive, your thoughts should always make you unique. What I think about my artwork, ‘is’ my artwork. My thought-words, and my images, are not separate things. To not write and share my meanings is to deliver only half my creativity, as such its existence would be amputated. I give no qualitative notion of these thoughts. I’m sure for most they’re poorly formed and extremely uninteresting. But they are mine and integral. What advice would you give to up and coming artists.
You will choose to create, but just like the gravitational pull of planets can warp and weave the orbital journeys of nearby satellites, so may the desire to sell your art for money, warp and weave your original creative impulse. Nearly all artists have to sell to survive. Being a professional artists means selling work to finance the creation of more work. The authentic artist will refute the gravitational pull of commercialism and attempt at all costs to stay true to an authentic self while still selling and produce.