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Michael Parkes is a master of contemporary magical realism in art. Parkes is a painter, lithographer and sculptor of international repute. In literature, magical realism is associated with the works of Nobel-winning writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, whose novels One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967) and Love in the Time of Cholera (1985) play with myth and fantasy in their representations of reality. The critic Matthew Strecher defines magical realism as “what happens when a highly detailed, realistic setting is invaded by something too strange to believe.” In Marquez’s fiction, the depiction of everyday human lives takes on allegorical, and even mythic, proportions. Trespassing the boundaries between reality and imagination, magical realism taps into myth and fantasy to offer a deeper version of reality. So does the art of Michael Parkes.
Born in the state of Missouri and a graduate of University of Kansas, Michael and his wife travelled all over the world, including to Europe and Asia, where they found a wealth of artistic inspiration. In an interview, Michael states that he’s always had “two loves in [his] life… art and philosophy.” An avid reader of Greek and Roman mythology as well as Eastern philosophy, Michael integrates mythical motifs into his art, similarly to the legendary American painter and illustrator, Maxfield Parrish.
In the lithograph above, called Angel Affair, Parkes harmoniously combines the fantasy of a seductive angel with elements of a Greek goddess and the realism of a man dressed in a business suit. Angel Affair depicts an escape from the mundane reality of work through the promise of a pleasure with no sacrifice: a sensuality that retains its innocence. What may be impossible in real life, becomes possible in the world of of magical realism.
In his magnificent sculptures, Michael Parkes often relies upon characters from Greek and Egyptian mythology to represent not only the unique blend of magic, faith and supernatural explanations of reality that ancient cultures provided, but also the complementarity between masculine and feminine principles. In every domain–drawing, painting, sculpture and lithography–Michael Parkes’ magical realism unites the artistry of life-like representations with ancient cultural symbols that feed our imaginations and offer us an enriching escape into the world of fantasy.
You can view more of Michael Parkes artwork on his website,
Claudia Moscovici, postromanticism.com