Mike Parr
The Golden Age

The Golden Age
, 2011
Installation view
Click to enlarge

The self-portrait project has defined the art of Mike Parr for more than forty years: a practice of continual experimentation, exploration and exposure.  The portrait head in its multiple and diverse renderings performs as a highly complex and ambiguous sign of the psychoanalytic and the social self.

Parr’s drawings and prints exist at the core of his practice in strong relation to the performance works.  While Parr asserts that each medium is essentially ‘performative’ and represents psychic risk taking, it is drawing that is most able to extend the core performance work into another area of practice.  The films, videos and photographs are also important traces of the artist’s performances and an important aspect of the drawing is its relationship to performance photography.  “I began drawing to free the performance record of ‘photodeath’ and to introduce limit states into drawing directly”. (M.P.)

Through gesture the artist occupies the paper and interrogates the self.  The intensity and meaning of the endurance performance works and the echoes of the individual performances themselves, find their way into the drawings and prints.  Parr asserts that the “performative” is fundamentally important “for all of my work”. This capacity of representation in the drawings and prints cannot be replicated anywhere else – the unique performances happen and are gone: only the drawings and prints remain as artistic expressions and residual objects.