Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Graydon Parrish 'The Cycle of Terror & Tragedy: Septmber 11, 2001' (2002-2006)

Born in Phoenix, Arizona, Graydon Parrish is a realist painter and uses a unique style of Contemporary Classicism which consists of full-bodied figures, linear draftsmanship, dramatic scenes, high contrast of light and dark and historic connotations. Parrish draws his inspirations from French Neoclassical painter Jacques-Louis David and Italian Renaissance painter Michelangelo and adapts this European style with contemporary issues. The use of monumental artworks to memorialise historical events is a time-honoured tradition in European art that derives from the Renaissance period.

Parrish was commissioned by the New Britain American Art Museum to create an allegorical painting in memory of the tragedy of September 11, 2001 and a New Britain native Scott O'Brien who died that day. 'The Cycle of Terror & Tragedy: September 11, 2001' is one of the largest oil paintings made in America in the past few years measuring at 6 feet 5 inches by 17 feet 6 inches. According to Parrish, the painting 'represents the endless cycle of human frailty; how we are blind to tragic events, no matter in what form and no matter how many have come before.'

The painting is meant to be read from left to right with both ends connected to represent the 'cycle of life' (Child - Youth - Old Age - Child). The three children on the left represent innocence and are blindfolded in order to maintain their innocence and shield them from the horrors that are around them. This is reasserted by the planes which Parrish states are 'toys not weapons'. The central identical figures screaming represent the Twin Towers which are about to collapse. They too have been blindfolded to enforce the belief that they too are innocent alongside the lack of clothing that could be seen to represent vulnerability. The blindfolds could also be seen to exemplify the fact that America did not see the destruction of September 11, coming. Lying at the feet of the twin towers is a man dying with three naked women on the right mourning symbolising the families who were directly involved in the days events, losing loved ones in the rubble of the towers. One is gripping a cloth which suggests she is mourning for her husband while the other two are holding a candle, remembering and grieving. Corresponding to his European influences, Parrish uses the three exposed mourning women to represent the Three Fates of Greek mythology who are all knowing and tragic. Parrish then moves onto representing the survivors through an old man wrapped in bandages. It is unsure about whether the man, who is gripping onto the young girls blindfold, is trying to protect her by shielding her from what is happening and so trying to erase the events from future memory or exposing her to the death and destruction that has just took place in order to make sure future generations remember the events and those who died.

Graydon Parrish not only depicts the events of that day in a magnificent way, his technique shows that American art still today influenced by certain aspects of European art. By modernising the classical European style with contemporary connotations, Parrish revives this seemingly dying method in an American context.




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