Steven Parrino - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Friday, October 16, 2009 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist

  • Catalogue Essay

    ‘When I started making paintings the word on painting was 'PAINTING IS DEAD.' I saw this as an interesting place for painting... death can be refreshing, so I started engaging in necrophilia..... Approaching history in the same way that Dr. Frankenstein approaches body parts... and this death painting thing led to a sex and death painting thing... that became an existence thing... that became a 'Cease to Exist' thing... A kind of post-punk existentialism. I am still concerned with 'art about art', but I am also aware that 'art about art' still reflects the time in which it was made. Content is not denied... Content is not obvious... Content is sustained in the air or the vibe of the work.' (S. Parrino, The No Texts (1979-2003), New York, 2003, p. 43)
    Steven Parrino's unique, single minded avant-garde oeuvre, dating primarily from the 80s and 90s and tragically cut short by his untimely death from a motorcycle accident, has often been referred to as a new form of realism in art. At a time when Jeff Koons was making monumental appropriation sculptures, Parrino had to literally and metaphorically tear painting apart in order to save it. Deeply influenced by the American tradition of abstract painting and figurative Pop Art, his large scale, sculptural painting Sin City Sag. Fuckhead Bubble Gum executed in 1992 in New York City has undeniable roots in the monochromatic canvases of Frank Stella and the bold, bright hues of Andy Warhol. Yet the realism of Parrino's art makes the painting itself into an object, a real fact. Sin City Sag's ‘deformed' canvas is executed by first painting a monochromatic magenta square at the centre of a large piece of raw canvas that has been conventionally stapled to a stretcher. The painted canvas is then pulled forward from the stretcher, aggressively contorted, wrinkled and crumbled only to be reattached this time with the sinuous, sagging raw excess canvas beautifully flowing like drapery.
    While the viewer can easily get lost in the sexually suggestive creases, folds and hollows and the glamorous, vivid colours of Parrino's works, the nihilistic nature of his art can not be ignored. The violent manner in which the paintings were executed mirrors the urban reality that constituted Steven Parrino's late 80s, early 90s New York City life. His scorched oeuvre reflects the underside of a dark segment of society, rebellious youths involved in sex, drugs and alternative music. With the financial crash and the outbreak of the Gulf War, the socially and politically turbulent turn of the decade saw the prominence in music of heavy metal and grunge and the rise of the raving culture. Bands like Nirvana and their suicidal front man Kurt Cobain captured the angst of a disenfranchised generation. The title of the present lot, Sin City Sag. Fuckhead Bubble Gum, a raw, aggressive, explicit idiom, is reminiscent of the oeuvre of another New York artist working in the same vein and a close friend of Steven Parrino, the painter Christopher Wool and his groundbreaking series of text paintings comprised of swear word ridden phrases stenciled in black lettering on white painted aluminium. Created concurrently, the artistic output of both Parrino and Wool powerfully, visually defines not only a pivotal moment in American socio-political history but also marks the revival and triumph of contemporary painting. It is a testament to Steven Parrino's deep and lasting influence that artists like Terence Koh, Banks Violette and the late Dash Snow are the current darlings of the New York art scene.
    ‘My paintings are not formalist, not narrative. My paintings are realist and connected to real life, the social field, in brief: action... All my work deals with disrupting the status quo and the history of like disruptions- mainly focused on the USA between 1958 and the present time- my lifetime.' (Steven Parrino in conversation with Lionel Bovier, 1994) 


Sin City Sag. Fuckhead Bubble-Gum

Enamel and gesso on gathered canvas.
240.5 x 240.5 x 50 cm. (94 3/4 x 94 3/4 x 19 3/4 in).
Signed and dated 'ST. Parrino 1992' on the reverse.

£300,000 - 400,000 

Sold for £313,250

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

17 Oct 2009