Jonathan Parker is one of the most innovative artists currently working in the United Kingdom. His GoldenBlueFigure compositional technique has the capacity to transform perception.
Parker was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, when his civil engineer father was making a transportation study of the city in 1968, and he grew up in Twickenham, west London where the River Thames flows through the landscape between Strawberry Hill and Richmond. As a youngster, cycling along the river, off to play either trombone or football, Jonathan formed a close association with the river which remains strong, like music and exercise.
Parker was educated at King's College School, Wimbledon and Camberwell School of Art (Foundation), then served artistic apprenticeships in both Spain and Cuba from 1988 to 1991, including with Nelson Villalobos y Ferrer. He graduated from Northumbria University in 1992 with a degree in Fine Art and won the prestigious Royal Academy Richard Ford Award in the same year (a fine art travel scholarship to Spain). His formal training was made mainly by drawing in black and white or developing simple photographic techniques to depict figures and interiors. His skill at interpreting light through colour and oil painting was learnt independently, in the landscape across Spain and along the Thames.
Mercury Gallery in Cork Street represented Parker as a Gallery Artist in his early career and he had a major solo exhibition at the River and Rowing Museum in 2010. This was followed by a residency at Wallington in Northumberland, a place of unrestricted adventure and timeless imagination with which the artist has been associated all his life. Parker's engagement with painting started at Wallington, where an antique reproduction of Titian's 'Bacchus and Ariadne' hung in his grandmother's home.
"As a young boy I was repeatedly intoxicated by the atmosphere of the overall scene imagined and depicted by the artist. I didn’t know it was called Bacchus and Ariadne or that the artist was Titian but I was mesmerised by the figure with a billowing crimson cape who steps off a chariot. He is taking a big stride from quite a height but his leg, taking the weight, does not rest on anything. His heel nearly connects to the hub of the chariot wheel, waiting to be pulled by two leopards, but it doesn’t. He’s in mid-air. As I have matured as an artist I realise I just love the questions of visual intelligence generated by this fine art image."
An agreement to hang several different collections of his work at Lloyds Private Bank in Mayfair, London, ran from 2011-2020 and his practice was the subject of a symposium at Durham University in 2017, Jonathan Parker Familiarity and Mystery, PDF here.
There are now thirteen paintings by the artist, including ten portraits, in the UK’s National Art Collection
and a selection of his artworks from 1997-2018 are currently being curated by Brocket Gallery.
From his studio in Wimbledon, Jonathan continues to paint artworks that are reflective of key points in time. Subtle, emotional triggers are found within each piece, created through spontaneous brushwork and his enquiry into light. The use of layering and texture to form an intriguing composition leaves the viewer with more to be discovered beneath the layers. The significance of the sources of inspiration is left open, posing questions to be addressed. The questions are about how we see and how we feel.
The answers are apprehended both as processes and things.
Occasional updates and insights into Jonathan's work can be found on instagram
. His contribution to the National Portrait Gallery UBP Annual Seminar 2022 - George on the Wrekin, a unique perspective - is available here