Fascination with vivid colour and a love of paint itself are hallmarks of the contemporary Spanish artist Pedro Paricio. In bright and dynamic canvases he sets out to solve conceptual problems, to incorporate street culture into fine art, to pay homage to great artistic figures of the past and to examine and question the role of the artist. His subjects range from contemporary science to Hispanic folklore and from music to philosophy.
Spanish, b. 1982
Paricio was born on 16 January 1982 on Tenerife in the Canary Islands. As a child, he was always drawing, but at high school he studied science and only began to contemplate a future in the arts a few months before going to college. ‘To be honest, the thing that attracted me was the freedom that society gives to the artist’, he explains. ‘I chose art because I wanted a different life.’ Yet, with the benefit of hindsight, he now feels that the chain of events that led him into art was a process of discovering his fate, his destiny.
Paricio enrolled at the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of La Laguna, Tenerife, moving on to a course in Salamanca and completing his training with a degree in Fine Arts at the University of Barcelona (2004–2006). While at college, he considered a career as an art critic-cum-curator; such essays as Unfinished Articles I and II convey a lucid intelligence that enables him to reflect, for example, on the tyrannical relationship between artistic theory and practice. Paricio was focusing mostly on sculpture, installation and video art at the time of his first group show in Barcelona, Don’t Call it Performance (2004), but shortly afterwards decided to make painting his sole medium; he considers the latent possibilities of painting to be infinite and dismisses the idea of using other media or technology in response to fleeting fads in art.
Paricio’s first one-man exhibition was held in 2006 at the Espacio Joven in Salamanca. Supporting himself as an artist by taking a range of jobs, including art editing, curating, assisting photographers, clowning at children’s parties and game-keeping, he started work in 2006 on a series of paintings titled ‘The Canary Paradise’. He described his approach as ‘abstract street/Pop Art’, providing ‘freedom from the structure of the mind and the computerized world’. In the cycle he integrates Clement Greenberg’s theories of Modernism with urban art, appropriating diverse cultural references; for instance, to Jack Kerouac’s novel The Dharma Bums (1958), to Dutch and Spanish football stars, and to films, including The Miracle of Candeal (2004). Appropriately, the series was exhibited at Ikara, a Barcelona skateboard shop, in 2008, the year he started painting full time.
Paricio’s series begun in 2008 – small mixed media drawings under the title of ‘Films’ and acrylic on canvas ‘Destructures’ – continued his abstract reflections on the cultural environment of that decade, from The Sopranos on television to Large Hadron Collider at the forefront of scientific discovery. In two series from 2009, ‘Digital Painting’ and ‘After Francis Bacon’, Paricio used an unusual mix of hard-lined, flat geometric and amorphous shapes in primary and jewel colours alongside swathes of thick, spattered paint on canvases that were gradually edging towards the figurative. Works on paper made in 2010 include a sequence of traditional ritual masks from the Canary Islands which clearly depart from his abstract renderings of ‘Sideshow Characters’.
Since the series ‘Dialogues’ (2010), Paricio has been self-reflexive, meditating in paint on himself as artist and paying tribute to his predecessors. The 18 works in ‘Master Painters’ (2011) give personal re-readings of famous paintings, sometimes subtly, but generally with wit or irony: thus Canarian Gothic references Grant Wood’s American Gothic; Flowers for a Martyr reworks Vincent van Gogh’s iconic sunflowers; and Pedro (Naked at Stairs) harks back both to Gerhard Richter’s Ema (Nude on a Staircase) of 1966 and beyond it to Marcel Duchamp’s fragmented Nude Descending a Staircase (No. 2) of 1912. Borrowing and adapting imagery from the past, Paricio fuses it with his own visual language of blanked-out faces, Stetson hats and harlequin colours, introducing layers of meaning and playing with the identity of subject and artist. He persists with the theme in ‘Diary of an Artist’ (2011–2012) and again, on a more intimate scale, in ‘Magic Charms’ (2012), which fetishises his painter’s tools and other attributes against a particularly bright version of the harlequin geometry.
Paricio currently divides his time between Tenerife and London. His paintings are held in many private collections around the world, and he enjoys an international reputation following exhibitions throughout Europe and the United States. The Master Painters show at Halcyon Gallery, London, in 2011 made an impact on the international art scene, and in 2012 The Theatre of Painting, his solo museum exhibition in Spain, was staged at the Institute of Culture and Arts of Seville. In early 2013, he took part in the Gabinete de Curiosidades, a mixed exhibition of works by modern and contemporary artists at the Plataforma Arte Contemporáneo (PAC), Madrid, and the Art Madrid Maestros Art Fair in Madrid. Paricio was honoured to be selected for inclusion in Francesca Gavin’s book 100 New Artists (2011), representing an innovative generation that is forming the aesthetics of the coming decade.
An exhibition of Paricio’s work will be held at the Tenerife Espacio de las Artes (TEA) in early 2014, after which the show will travel to London for exhibition at Halcyon Gallery in the spring. The Tenerife Espacio de las Artes, designed by Herzog and De Muron, opened in 2004 and holds the world’s most important collection of works by the Surrealist painter Oscar Dominguez.
Paricio has an all-embracing view of painting which crosses the boundaries between abstract and figurative, object and narrative. ‘It is as if you saw a play in one second’, he says. ‘Postmodernity allows us to understand that there isn’t one style that is better than another ... and in the end what we realise ... is that everything is available to us.’
2006 BA Fine Arts, University of Barcelona, Spain
2004 Workshop with artist Pedro G. Romero, Contemporary Art Museum of Castile and León (MUSAC), Valladolid, Spain
2004 Workshop with artist and author Darío Corbeira, Salamanca, Spain
2012 Diary of an Artist and Other Stories 2007–2012, Halcyon Gallery, London
2012 The Theatre of Painting, Casino de la Exposición, Seville, Spain
2011 Master Painters, Halcyon Gallery, London
2010 Fe infinita, Fidel Balaguer Gallery, Barcelona, Spain
2009 After Francis Bacon, Seyhoun Gallery, Los Angeles
2009 Un pintor otro, Muro Gallery, Valencia, Spain
2008 The Canary Paradise, Ikara Gallery, Barcelona, Spain
2006 Intimissimo, Espacio Joven, Salamanca, Spain
SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS
2013 Art Madrid Maestros Art Fair, Madrid, Spain
2013 Gabinete de Curiosidades, Plataforma Arte Contemporáneo (PAC), Madrid, Spain
2011 Spain Now!, Halcyon Gallery, London
2011 Gallery Artists, Halcyon Gallery, London
2009 Dress for Success, Barcelona Contemporary Art Museum (MACBA), Barcelona, Spain
2009 Exposiciones Casino de Tenerife, Tenerife
2009 Kalós Gallery, Barcelona, Spain
2008 Sparrow Projects, HudGraf Gallery, Kiev, Ukraine
2008 Casa del Vino, Tacoronte
2008 Casa de la Cultura San Agustín, La Orotava
2004 No lo llames performance, Salamanca, Spain
2004 Premios injuve, Espacio Joven, Salamanca, Spain
2003 VII ediciones de los premios San Marcos, Palacio de la Salina, Salamanca, Spain
2003 Premios van Dick, Sala van Dick, Salamanca, Spain
Colección olorVISUAL, Barcelona, Spain