Photography by Rod Deal
Primary Projects presents Contender, a selection of new works from Kenton Parker during Art Basel Miami at their new project space in Downtown Miami. In a solo show dedicated to self-portraiture through sculpture, painting, installation and photography, the artist challenges the viewer with a swell of raw emotions.
On location at Milk Studios (Los Angeles), Parker calls on long-time friend and photographer, Patrick Hoelck, to capture the madness that makes-up the artist’s multiple personalities. Parker tacked on the roles of producer, director, editor and subject for this exhibition, exposing his various states of being behind and in front of the lens.
Contender is the most extensive, self-referential and personal body of work of Parker’s career, revealing a narrative that ultimately speaks to the human condition.
“Kenton Parker is a contender in every sense of the word. The purity of Parker is what makes him such a precious commodity. This exhibition contains an opportune moment to encounter the extensive character make-up of this uniquely creative eccentric.” Books Bischof, Primary Founder/Curator.
Last year, you presented a space specific installation at Soho Beach House with Primary Projects. This year you are the inaugural / Basel artist for the new space. Why Primary Projects? How?
I’ve been with Primary Projects since their start and have been in several group shows at the old space as well as a solo show and other various off-site installations.
When did you begin installing Contender at new Primary Project Space Downtown?
I came down earlier in the year to do some planning and production and have been here for almost a month now building and installing.
How long have you been working on concept?
I’ve been consolidating concepts for this show for roughly 45 years.
Which pieces did you prepare in your studio?
Other than the performance shoot at Milk Studios and graphic production in Los Angeles I did something different for this show, which was to create and build almost all of the new work here in Miami. This means that I have been here for some time working up to the opening. It’s been a challenge figuring out who and where to go for certain materials, printing. etc-but really fun to meet and work with new people who are incredibly talented.
What elements, if any, were inspired by the new space?
Because of how big Primary’s new space is, I was given the freedom to take advantage of negative space which isn’t always possible in a smaller gallery.
How did the concept and collabo develop?
I’ve worked with Primary for years. Outside of the gallery they are people who I consider to be good friends. What better place to reveal my entire spectrum of emotions than one run by your friends who inevitably are affected by them in not only a professional level but also a personal one.
What, if any, multi-media elements are you incorporating?
There’s photography, video, neon, installation-I played with a lot of different mediums and experimented for the show.
How does the exhibit represent your personality? Is that your intent?
This exhibition is a pretty complete delineation of me and how I operate.
Why did you choose these mediums? How/what do they reveal/hide?
Photography was the best way for me to depict all of these various emotions and how it feels and looks to be my own worst enemy. There is also a large installation titled Always Sorry, a flower shop I built for the show in the gallery. To me it’s about making up for things with other things and making a mess and then cleaning it up, which also plays out in several photographs I built the shop because I wanted to evoke this through experience rather than only imagery.
LA is prominent in your artwork, is it nostalgia for the places/ people from your hometown? From my one visit to the West Coast, LA = Miami – Cuban Food + Mexicans & slightly better weather…what is about LA?
Miami is a second home to me. There are plenty of similarities and a lot of differences. I’ve lived in LA for 20 years so its only natural that there’s this prominent sense of place in my work.
The behind the scenes/preview photos by Rod Deal are seemingly shots of larvae stages of what you’re creating. Can you describe the exhibit (in 140 characters or less)?
This show is about this sort of overwhelming feeling of every emotion at once-death and happiness, misery and the melancholy, the beautiful and the ugly and how I deal with it all.