Rhys Parkinson’s artistic practice deals with themes such as human connection and nostalgia while retaining a strong sense of materiality. These works investigate the notion of the human condition which can be defined as “inescapable features of being human in a social, cultural, and personal context.” This can also be understood as the irreducible part of humanity that is inherent and not connected to factors such as gender, race or class. It includes concerns such as the meaning of life, the search for gratification, a sense of curiosity and the inevitability of isolation.
Executed in lead and coloured pencil these works evidence Parkinson’s robust skill set for draftsmanship. Tapping into the artistic traditions of realism, the artist is also informed by Futurism and Russian Constructivism. Immaculately rendered to an almost photographic degree, these works reference the portraiture of hyper realist artists such as Chuck Close. This is evident in their emphasis on the mechanics of photographic techniques such a lighting, focus and blur which is then translated into a visual arts context.
Concurrent to his drawing practice, Parkinson produces photographs of his drawings which are deconstructed and then reconstructing into photographic collages. This repetitive layering elicits a sense of vibration and motion that appears counter intuitive to the concerns of his drawing practice. As such, this distinct body of work questions his original portrayal of emotional sincerity as well as the nature of authenticity.
“Of recent, hands have become a strong interest. For me a hand represents who a person is. Our hands are our way of creating, working… living. They allow us to connect, show love, demonstrate aggression, inflict pain, care for our young, take care of ourselves or even produce the most detailed of artworks. I believe a hand can be a symbol for how we relate to one another. Ultimately though, our hands are a tool, an asset – our way to connect.”