Steven Parrino is best known for his signature-misshaped monochromes with slashed canvases. Throughout his career the artist applied to his practice a relentless punk radicalism, revitalising the history of abstraction through a combination of painting, photo collage, drawing, film, video and performance. At the core of Parrino’s work lies the strongest belief that “radicalism comes from content and not necessarily form” and such a belief was born from a deep understanding of the history of the painting and the avant–garde.
The Parrinos is an exploration of these distinctive relationships he had and the symbiotic influences between the works of Parrino’s friends and contemporaries, including John Armleder, Olivier Mosset and Cady Noland. Günther Förg didn’t directly harbour personal relationships with the other artists but Förg, along with Armleder and Mosset, served as a European counterpart to the coterie of the spirit of punk united by Steven Parrino. In fact, Förg was a great admirer and collector of Parrino’s work, which is palpable in the level of existential pessimism inherent in the abstraction and repetition of the large-scale canvases he creates.
The exhibition begins with one of Parrino’s signature torn canvases, Crowbar (1988), whilst the screeching of the stereo guides the viewer sonically towards the studio with a tumult of high-volume fuzz, playing songs from Electrophilia, Parrino’s band. Adjacent to the stereo hangs John Armleder’s FS Richoux/Rocket (2013) (depicting a guitar next to sonically inspired diptychs), creating a sensorial dedication to the great influence of music on both artists’ work.
In the living room, an Olivier Mosset’s motorbike immediately draws the viewer’s attention with its charged and evocative presence, placed in the centre of the room. The Harley Davidson bike, Untitled (2019), conjures imagery of an American biker lifestyle that is at once alienating yet personal for Mosset, who is a biker himself. Sitting on the right hand side of the Mosset bike, hangs Parrino’s Warped Hole (1992), a distorted silver canvas with a hole carved out of the material. Whereas on the left of Mosset’s work, Armleder offers a personal interpretation to the limits of the readymade, presenting Se-Kure Domes II (1998-1999) a series of silver spherical surveillance domes attached to the wall.
The fumoir hosts a black and white enveloped canvas by Steven Parrino No Title Painting (2000) and four smaller works on paper by the artist together with a large Cady Noland aluminium work, Untitled (1989).
The scattered piles of neon lights, Untitled (FS) (1998), by John Armleder sits diagonally across the floor of the former dining room, playing upon the notion that a discarded or devalued object is saved and then repurposed and elevated it to a higher status. In such a way, it interacts with the misshaped Parrino canvas and with Mosset’s o.T. (1974): the works are symbolic yet symbiotic when placed together, reminding the audience of either artist’s punk outlook on the process of art-making.
Steven Parrino’s Blob Fuckhead Bubblegum (1995), consisting of a 100-yard stretch conglomerate of pink painted canvas, on loan from Le Consortium Dijon museum in France, dominates the former kitchen together with the radical cynicism of Cady Noland’s Fast and Cheap (1989) is paired with Mosset’s six monochrome paintings provide a return to the radical roots of painting. Obsession is a subject matter that creates a thread throughout The Parrinos, here embodied by Gunther Förg’s Untitled (1995) portraying explosions of colour across a vast canvas of negative space, throughout his practice, Förg obsessively repeated his subjects over and over again. In the same room we have the enticing installation Fast and Cheap (1989) by Cady Noland e and six monochrome canvases by Olivier Mosset, Untitled (2006).
The site-specific Armleder wall painting, covering with repetitive illustrations the corner of the bedroom is in front of Cady Noland’s aluminum collage panel, Tanya as a Bandit (1989). The raw austerity of Günther Förg’s bronze canvas, Untitled (1995), is in stark contrast with Mosset’s Red (2017) vivid canvas and Parrino’s Repulsion painting n2 (1992): all three works offer an insight on the materic and gestural, punk and rigor.
With each room serving as an investigation into the various facets of punk, The Parrinos is an all-encompassing journey traversing the lives and careers of these legendary artists. With Steven Parrino and Cady Noland emerging from the 1970’s New York art scene, both have managed to carve out truly idiosyncratic attitudes that shine brightly through their work. Olivier Mosset, John Armleder, and Günther Förg are prime examples of such, serving as European pioneers to the art historical trajectory, maneuvering through minimalism, abstraction and ready made and aggressively resisting any form of classification.