ASHES/ASHES is pleased to present TechNoir, a solo exhibition by Joseph Parra. The exhibition will be on view from November 4th to December 18th, 2022, with an opening on Friday, November 4th, from 6–8PM.
Joseph Parra’s new paintings decode and distort the idealized male physique through his use of the medium in a rather sculptural manner. Squeezed from the paint tube, the matrix of dots constellate online-sourced imagery—familiar with their silhouettes yet faint in appearance—in ever-shifting veneers. Parra’s equally regimented and introspective process delineates maps of bodily topographies, outlines of fantasies filtered through the experience of inhabiting technology-infused realities. Against today’s gaze into single-layered screens in search of carnality, Parra summons uncharted potentials on canvases in midnight hues. The figures lure with their promise of aesthetic euphoria which then blossoms into a formalist exploration within the positioning of each dot as well as in their groupings.
Parra captures both a tactility akin to classical marble nudes and an ethereality as thin as air. The dots’ orchestrations yield effects similar to light’s dance on sculptures—hill-like buttocks and lumpy abdomens are illuminated by flickers that subvert the codes of wanting. Specters of Paul Rudolph Cruise the Mineshaft (2022) includes bodily fragments—rounded buttocks, a brawny arm, and an elegant torso—adjacent to a body with missing flesh, or in this case, data. The figure’s anonymous face stares at the other body parts floating in space, all rendered in the infinity of acrylic marks. A similar mercurial illusion between cyber and fleshy also dominates Ganymede Encounters Trade in the Ninth Circle (2022) in which forms both ooze and endure, nearing each other with a jaded aloofness through Parra’s application of both dots and stretched lines. The violet-colored Patrick Cowley As Atlas Bearing the Grid of Stars (2022) embodies flamboyant mythology with immediacy of the artist’s process in which a grid of dots convey background for the compressed body composed of freer paint marks.
In Untitled (Clone) (2022), a torso is flexed to an Adonis-ian grandiosity, his shoulders risen like fleshy mounts and nipples eyeing the viewer’s gaze. The body, however, is a well of painterly reminders, as well as of optic variations. Through the onlooker’s movements, the romantic beauty fluctuates into wavy abstractions which then evolve into a deadpan face. The title’s assumption of the 1970s’ gay slang term ‘clone’ referring to a man fashioned in stereotypical male attire, pushes the visual shattering towards the historical and the collective. Similar to Hal Fischer’s categorical study of the 70s’ gay male archetypes in his book Gay Semiotics, Parra’s approach filters the internet culture’s construction of looking, desiring, and being.
Parra’s paintings encapsulate the liquidity of queer histories—written, painted, sculpted or told—passed through generations while molding into the landscapes of the moment. Resistant towards evanescence, the knowledge lives in the firmness of a painter’s mark but remains collectively susceptible to the malleability of its process. From an illusion of a body stems a sea of ocular abundance.
— Osman Can Yerebakan
Joseph Parra (b. 1990; West Palm Beach, FL) lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. He received an MFA from Hunter College, New York, NY (2022); a BFA from Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD (2012); and attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Madison, ME (2014). He has participated in several artist residencies including: Offshore Residency, Penobscot Bay, ME; Byrdcliffe Artist in Residence Program, Woodstock, NY; the Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT; Second State Press, Philadelphia, PA; the International School of Painting, Drawing, and Sculpture, Umbria, Italy; and the Atelier Artist in Residence Program, New York, NY. This is his first solo exhibition in New York City.