Interview: The Language Of Consciousness With Jason Parker
What is said when words seemingly fail
Mad Love 5m

The work of New Zealand born and raised artist Jason Parker emanates the feeling of a lucid dream.

Currently residing in the European art capital of Berlin, Jason has built a reputation as one of the most diverse and talented artists working right now. Depicting portraits in often serene and composed states, Jason blends together photo realistic sensibilities with expressionistic motifs. Raw brushstrokes and textured backgrounds blend seamlessly with his subjects.

This artistic aesthetic effectively portrays Jason’s curiosity and passion for conveying what language fails to express, whether it be states of dreaming, sub-consciousness or visualisations of the spirit. Ogling any of Jason’s pieces and it becomes abundantly hard to pin point one concise or cohesive emotional response, and to be fair he wouldn’t have it any other way.

We caught up with the man himself to discuss his beginnings, his practice and how Berlin has affected his outlook on art.

Do you remember any specific moment that sparked the idea in your mind of becoming a career artist?

Yeah. It was not long after I moved to Melbourne from New Zealand. Back in New Zealand, I was working as a designer after having squashed my childhood dreams of being an animator. When I first moved I got a job working in retail part time until I found a design job and in my free time I got back into drawing heavily again. I remember on my lunch break one day thinking – damn I much prefer this life. From then I stopped looking for design work and shifted my whole attention to becoming a working artist. The rest, as they say, is history.

Your work blends together dream-like aesthetics along with photo-realistic depictions of subjects in varying states of consciousness. How did you decide on pursuing this style? How do you continue to evolve your artistic process?

It was organic. I am a very introspective person, a classic over thinker and daydreamer. Constantly processing my surrounding world and filtering it through my highly existential, overactive mind. I paint people because they present as a vehicle to depict my surroundings and how I see and feel them. As a lonely soul that also provides me with a strong connection to my fellow man. The realism stems from my enjoyment in the process and becoming lost in the repetition. The push to depict a state beyond the one that is presented to us comes from who I am, what I have explored and from a mind that just won’t stop. To sum it up I enjoy depicting what I see and what I feel in a tight cohesive image. My practice in the same sense evolves very naturally, I never feel truly content with anything I’m doing and am always curious to try new techniques or materials. I get bored easily and don’t like to get too comfortable with one thing. I find this helps to keep things fresh and to push things ever forward.

How important is it to you portray a variety of different people in your work?

This actually wasn’t a conscious decision, but looking through my work it is obviously something that is very present my work. I guess building on the previous question, I have always been interested in depicting my surroundings. Coming from Auckland then living in Melbourne I have always found myself in very multicultural surroundings and with a wide variety of friends and acquaintance, and these are the people I depict.

You are just as renowned for your huge mural works as you are for your gallery pieces, transitioning between both contexts with a natural fluidity. Is there a difference in how you approach each medium?  

Not so much. I generally approach them the same. I like my mural work to look like an oil painting so I do my best to keep them cohesive.

I guess the biggest difference is I have more control with my studio work. When painting outdoors you can come across obstacles, like surface textures, weather, time restraints etc. this can often dictate the route you take or forces you to bring about changes that you usually wouldn’t make.It’s actually a good thing, often at the end of a challenging mural I stumble across an approach or elements whilst coming up with edits on the go or deviating from the original plan.

Collaborative murals are also something I enjoy doing in which case the approach is a lot different, it’s more like a jam, combining of styles, this is something I love this as it really forces your hand to try out different things and to be flexible.

Collaborative mural with Veins (Photo by Kevin Vo)

Currently you are living in the one of the art capitals of the world Berlin. How has residing in such an artistically saturated city affect your view on what you do as an artist and art in general?

There is a strong abstract aesthetic here, I feel like a touch of that has crept into my work. But in terms of any real shift in myself or my art, it’s too early to say.

I feel like it may take a while for things to filter through everything, right now I’m just trying to take it all in. Living in Europe has been great though, not only are you surrounded by a huge contemporary scene but the access to museums and to see works that I have cherished for years in person is a real treasure.
I’m looking forward to seeing how my time in Europe plays a part in moving my art forward, and bring that energy back to Melbourne sometime next year.

Having exhibited internationally across your home of New Zealand, Melbourne and now Europe, your work has been exposed to a broad and international audience. What does it mean to you to have physical and tangible works exhibited in a time where so many artist exist in a digital context?  

“Overwhelmed By It All”,  Juddy Roller Gallery, 2018

Actually, the final product is not really the catalyst for creating physical works. It is the process. I like getting my hands dirty, I like feeling physically tired at the end of the day. Pushing paint and drawing just felt more natural for my personality rather than sitting in front of a screen with which I had to do as a designer and hated. Although in saying that I do have an interest in digital art (especially the growing 3D art movement), video art and things of that nature, and feel that at some stage I may try my hand in these mediums. We will see.

Over your whole career, what has been the most important lesson you have learned?

There’s two. First, put in the hours and work bloody hard (and smart).
Secondly, the hardest to learn but the most important lesson of all, trust your gut.


For more info on Jason here. Follow @jasonparkerart

October 22, 2018
Editors Pick