Artist Brian Parker says that his art is “driven by the need to appeal to the visual sense of my viewers”, which one might think is the basic requirement of any painting, given that touching, smelling or tasting them is generally frowned upon by most galleries.
Parker is a former scientist – a PhD in Chemical Engineering, no less – who, after excursions into dance and climbing, returned to his first passion of Fine Art. For the last ten years, he’s been painting daily, which is an admirable level of dedication, and is about to celebrate this decade of dedication with a one-man show at the Royal Opera Arcade Gallery in London.
At the centrepiece of this show, apparently, will be the work Alive and Well, which you can admire in all its naked glory above. The model, should you be in any doubt, is Brian himself, which suggests an admirable lack of shame as he posits himself at the centre of pill packets, X-rays and similar medical detritus designed to show the cost of keeping the average person in good health (or at least alive) to the age of sixty – the milestone Brian has reached at an NHS cost of £120,000, which doesn’t seem all that much in reality, espcially as most of us won’t be spending fifteen grand at The Priory.
the lifesize piece is, therefore, an interesting tribute to the NHS and not a slice of remarkable vanity, though one might be forgiven for thinking otherwise, given the fact that the centrepiece is a naked Brian in da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man pose. But then, we expect a certain bit of vanity from our artists, and in fairness, Brian certainly hasn’t attempted to make himself look like overly endowed. In fact, perhaps anticipating snarky bastards like myself making this point, he has stated the piece is indeed “an artistic conceit”, but also says that the idea was to be entirely honest about the body: “I even shaved my hair off as hair styles are contrived and so not totally honest.” Admirable stuff, though a cynic might point out that he kept his facial hair, arguably a much more contrived and styled and unnatural part of the body than head hair. And let’s not even get into the necklaces…
Still, all scoffing aside, Brian’s painting is a vibrant, lurid and hugely entertaining work that is so in your face as to be positively personal space invading, and we rather like that. And Brian is a self-taught, self-financed artist who has carved out his own style and – if not in the big leagues occupied by artists who are probably much less interested buy rather better connected – has achieved his own degree of success, so we’re definitely on his side right away. I have no doubt that this piece – and possibly the others, which I have yet to enjoy – will be quite the experience in the flesh, especially if you have the luck of seeing the real Brian stood next to his cheerfully naked doppleganger. The show runs from the 7th to the 12th of October.