Michael Parkes Biography

MICHAEL PARKES — Michael Parkes is America's leading Magic Realist painter and printmaker. Though he studied graphic art and painting at the University of Kansas, his unique style evolved very much in isolation, after a period in which he gave up the practice of art altogether and went off to India in search of philosophical illumination.

Michael Parkes had originally painted in the Abstract Expressionist style normal among his teachers, but after his pause for reflection, he began to draw and paint in a meticulous style of detailed representation which would enable him to give full expression to his inner world of images. The style was in principle realistic, the subject matter magical, and Magic Realism has characterized his work ever since.

Michael Parkes has studied deeply in esoteric doctrine of the East and the West, and his imagery is drawn from a range of wisdoms including the Cabalistic and the Tantric, but embodied in forms from his own imagination which are immediately accessible. Here strange beasts encounter mysterious winged women, good and evil fight out their immemorial conflict (though who can be perfectly sure which is which?), and in this weightless environment worlds are unmade and remade nearer to the heart's desire.

Even as a student, Michael Parkes was fascinated by various graphic processes, and in recent years he has become highly proficient in the difficult medium of the colour stone lithograph.