CURATOR INQUISITION: Shini Pararajasingham from Off The Kerb Gallery
Words - Jess McGuire Images - courtesy of Off The Kerb and Jason Parker
Fun Melbourne Arts Club fact: on the wall outside our gallery in Preston you can see a large mural painted by talented Melbourne artist Jason Parker, whose work we absolutely love. Well, Jason has just opened a brand new show called 'Room With A View' at Off The Kerb in Collingwood! To celebrate, we sat down with Off The Kerb's Shini Pararajasingham to ask her questions about the exhibition, Off The Kerb's history with Jason Parker, and her creative life in Melbourne. Enjoy our latest Curator Inquisition- that's an order!
Tell us a little about 'Room With A View', your upcoming exhibition of Jason Parker's work. Jason Parker’s “Room with A View” is a completely expressive experience of this incredibly introverted artist’s life. Jason is a man of few words, but his paintings and drawings are a long and descriptive narrative of moments, encounters, relationships, memories and interpretations of the world and the people in it. In many ways, you could say that Jason Parker’s major form of communication is his perception. And inthis exhibition as you move from wall to wall and room to room, you enter the perceived world of this incredibly talented artist.
How did Off The Kerb's relationship with Jason Parker get started?
The OTK team and I were at Little Tengu Gallery in late 2013 checking out their new shows. We were captivated by the young artist they had on show - he was live painting in the space. When we approached him, he was quiet, shy and awkward, but his painting style and technique was loud, confident and audacious. After getting to know a little about him, that he desperately wanted to give up Graphic Design as it was to him soul destroying and pursue fine art, we asked him to consider showing at Off the Kerb. From there he’d uneasily slip into Off the Kerb at each of the openings, checking out our vibe and what sort of art we showed. He quickly realized it was the type of space in which he wanted to exhibit.
His first show at Off the Kerb was in 2014 in collaboration with another fantastic artist Kat Phillimore. He then exhibited with us again in 2015 with a strong show. In this 2016 exhibition, he has ambitiously taken two gallery spaces filling the walls with paintings, drawings, sculpture and murals.
How did you and/or Jason select the works for this exhibition? What are the themes you are looking to explore?
Each of the pieces were specifically made for the show according to the theme of “Room With a View” – a metaphor of Jason’s representation of the world. All the works he made in the last 6 months leading up to the show are on the walls of the gallery. Each of the pieces have explored this concept and none of the works needed to be re-worked or excluded as they all hold remarkable narratives.
How does living and working in Melbourne influence you and your work in the creative arts? Melbourne has a plethora of creative activities, happenings and events. It is not shy of creative influence. We are so lucky to be living in one of most inspiring and creative cities in the world – up there with New York, London and Berlin. Everywhere you turn, you are inspired by the art in public spaces, performances in unexpected places and creative businesses popping up in permanent or pop up locations.
Who or what do you turn to for inspiration on days when creativity just isn’t flowing?
If I’m feeling a bit flat, I just roam the streets of Collingwood and Fitzroy (sometimes the laneways of Melbourne) and I am always struck with creative inspiration. There are so many galleries and creative spaces in these areas, and I try to get to as many shows as I can to see what others are doing or innovating. These help me form ideas whether in running the gallery, or in the artists to show.
How did you personally first get involved in art - were you one of those little kids who always loved being creative, or is it something that came later?
As a young child I was drawing on everything. I drew on my dad’s business documents, my mother’s recipe books, on the walls, on the floor. I was always making art. At 6 years old when my art teacher discovered that I was drawing the third dimension of objects, she made my parents aware that I was artistic. From that point on, I was labeled the artist in my family (and extended family). After losing my way a bit in studying and working in industries that I despised, I finally went back to art school at the age of 25. And ever since I’ve consistently been immersed in creativity – whether making art myself or directing artists and curating their shows. I find little else as interesting as art. Cats and music are my other passions!
Is there a piece in this exhibition that you’re most drawn to?
Every piece in this show is outstanding! But I bought the piece in the show that I was drawn to the most. It’s a painting of the artist himself concealed behind the branches of an eucalyptus tree. To me, this work not only shows the skill level of the artist, but it’s a true representation of him and his personality – always hiding and shying away from the limelight. He lets his art-making take the limelight, but is happy to hide in the shadows. It is truly a Jason Parker piece, and completely resonated with me for those reasons.
What is your favourite artwork of all time, and why? It’s just so hard to isolate one favourite. I have so many. Standing in front of “Judith Beheading Holofernes” by Caravaggio in Rome was one of the most awe-inspiring moments I have had. Similarly, Yinka Shonibare’s "The Swing (after Fragonard)" in Vienna completely blew my mind. Likewise, the luminescent, loose and carefree and highly emotive brush work of Jason’s Parker’s large scale murals have a hypnotic effect on me.
What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
Never give up. My father used to say this to me as a child and much later, as I went through each of my chapters in life. This has now become my mantra.
Jason's work will be exhibiting at Off The Kerb from March 17 until March 31