Don't tell Kenton Parker that love means never having to say you're sorry. On the contrary. For the 45 year-old West Coast artist, apologies when sincere are the weft and weave of romantic purity.
During a recent visit to Primary Projects' sprawling new space in Downtown Miami, Parker was knee deep in a thoughtful reverie while building a glass greenhouse he planned to fill with orchids, tulips, roses and plenty of spiny succulents as an offering to all the women he's loved and hurt before.
"I have this ability to piss off someone and say I'm sorry in the same long run on sentence," the green-thumbed, wiry dynamo explained. "I'm going to fill my hothouse with some neon signage too. When people enter the gallery all their senses will be brought into play."
For Parker, Always Sorry, the lush installation that masquerades as a functioning flower boutique, is part of his Art Basel solo that exposes his vulnerable side and an exercise in purging his amorous demons, he says.
"I'm really good at stepping in shit and really good at cleaning up that shit," he adds. In addition to filling Primary's pristine 5,000 square foot space with the scent of a gangster's funeral, Parker's show, titled "Contender," will transport viewers on a poetic journey staging the peaks and valleys of human complexity.
Parker is presenting a series of works ranging from sculpture, painting, installation and photographs that are self referential and marked by raw emotion.
In a series of large format photos reminiscent of Greek classical sculptures, the artist conveys multiple aspects of his high-spirited personality conveying an illuminating narrative of the existential condition.
The shots were lensed by Patrick Hoelck, a long-time friend and photographer, who captured Parker's intense one-day performance at the Milk Studios in Los Angeles, where the artist wove the compelling story at the root of his exhibit.
"I am a one man machine," Parker says. "I try to handle everything at once and have a crazy work ethic," he adds.
"Kenton Parker is a contender in every sense of the word," said Books Bischof, Primary founder and curator. "The purity of Parker is what makes him such a precious commodity. This exhibition contains an opportune moment to encounter the extensive character make-up of this uniquely creative eccentric."
For his photo shoot, Parker upended the line between artist and subject in a process he meticulously crafted through storyboards and sketches, setting up each individual portrait of himself. The resulting scenarios include imagery of fighting, nudity, apathy and purging among other universal plots audiences will easily relate with.
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"For Parker this whole project is a lot like therapy," Bischof explains. "From the flower shop, to his self portraits, text-based paintings and other works, what you get are all the multiple sides of Kenton."
"Contender," Primary Projects 151 NE 7th Street, Miami. Art Basel Week Hours: Monday, December 2 - Saturday, December 7 from 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m., and Sunday, December 8, from 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Opening Reception Friday, December 6, 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. Call 305-555-5555 or visit primaryprojectsspace.com.
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