Contemporary Arts. Contemporary Arts Artists Articles Resources Directory
Home Sitemap

Aaron Parazette at the Contemporary Arts Museum

The thickly painted splashes and splats derived from clip art in Aaron Parazette's previous paintings have been replaced in his most recent efforts by architectonic, hard-edge letters that spell out a word or phrase in suffer lingo. The surf language--including words like "endless," "axed" and "kook"--loosely ties these works into a series without having much to do with their content. Parazette, who is a suffer and grew up in Southern California before moving to Houston in 1990, takes as his subject the interaction of color, the contradictions of flatness and depth, and the razor-sharp clarity of edge. Once the jumbled and interlaced letters are deciphered, the viewer recognizes that the paintings are no more about surfing than Stella's protractor paintings of the '60s are about drafting tools or Ruscha's 1962 painting Spam (Actual Size) is about lunch meat.

Parazette's exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Museum included 10 large paintings, six pigment-ink prints on paper and a 23 1/2-foot-long mural in latex paint on the gallery's entrance wall. Depicting a graphic, geometric blue wave as it might be seen by a surfer inside it, Tube Time (2004) set the tone of the exhibition and defined the context of the work included. The spacious installation enhanced Parazette's bold palette of artificial-seeming colors reminiscent of plastic, his precise rendering of form and the emphatic presence of each painting. The works are designed on the computer, where the Helvetica letters are stretched, flipped and layered to fit the rectangular picture plane. The colors are also computer-generated and matched in acrylic paint that is applied to canvas in smooth layers. His use of masking tape is masterful. Over the years, Parazette has refined his signature "pinlines," which result from different colors of crisp underpainting left visible around the edges of each shape.

The stark, minimal Sketchy (2004) reads easily from left to right, beginning with a white "S" and "K" that extend from the top to the bottom edge of the canvas. Squeezed in behind and beside the "K," a capital "E" and lower case "t," "c" and "h" are painted in black and outlined with blue. A white "Y" is in the lower right corner. The ground is a gleaming metallic silver with a just discernible hint of the canvas's texture. Round letters, like "b," "u," "o" and "d," comprise the yellow, ocher and orange Beach Bunnie (2004) and the cool blue Surf God (2004), whose looping and interlocked shapes take a moment or two longer to make sense of. The fun may be in the puzzle, but the exhilaration comes from the works' crystalline clarity.

© Copyright All rights reserved.
Unauthorized duplication in part or whole strictly prohibited by international copyright law.