LOS ANGELES – CES Gallery is pleased to present By Any Means Necessary, Kenton Parker’s first solo exhibition with the gallery. Parker’s work addresses issues of self-improvement, beauty, and masculinity, expressing rebellion against societal pressures to be perfect or successful, while exploring the landscape as a metaphor for the body.
Parker’s studio practice is content driven, full of the charisma and charm of the artist’s personality, and able to tackle any media. Drawing from the psychological underbelly of humanity, Parker’s work develops from crude and witty musings incessantly scribbled on thousands of papers and gathered into an archive. These ideas are then translated into sculpture, painting, installation, videos, and murals. The overall result is a multitude of interpretations that tap into the dark humor of lifetime achievements and disappointments.
The pivotal work in the exhibition is a fully equipped shed installed in the gallery. This ubiquitous feeling space resembles an ordinary shed one might encounter in a suburban backyard, but Parker’s structure is filled with tools, mementos, junk, and art. Nearby, a series of handmade plaster weights and dumbbells are strewn across the floor – are they in the process of being made or are they being used to remake and improve our hero? Behind the shed a succulent garden, metaphorically evoking strength and resilience both in nature and in the studio, becomes a shelter, a make-out den, or a childhood fortress. This space displays a video Parker made while driving in LA – a tribute to the private and creative space of the car – the essence of Los Angeles living.
Parker’s life in Los Angeles and his regular hikes through the Hollywood Hills and the Joshua Tree desert inform the paintings in the exhibition. Each painting is a study in spontaneous mark-making, with careful attention to color choice and placement. Symbolic abstract gestures on large surfaces that reference the landscape are granted generous negative space, an allusion to Parker’s individual experience on these solitary walks and his appreciation of the natural environment.
At first glance, sculptural text-based works made from sticks and branches seem gentle and virtuous – souvenirs from the Hills with love texts scratched into their surfaces, innocent birds still clinging to them. A closer look at the texts reveals darkness and perversity, insinuating that life is not a walk in the park, particularly where romance is concerned.
Through careful observation of his surroundings and meticulous sourcing, Parker cultivates a perverse ethos, where viewers can get a glimpse into his crude, yet contemplative persona, whose intellect is matched by sexual deviation, marked by his personal experiences navigating the glorious and troubling Los Angeles landscape.
Kenton Parker (b. 1968, Grass Valley, CA) received his BFA from San Diego State University. He has exhibited work internationally, most recently at the Arts Initiative and the SOHO House. Parker is represented by Primary Projects in Miami and currently lives and works in Los Angeles.