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the World of

Michael Parkes ���t�� �t��� ��������� � �

Stone Lithography, A Love Affair After much thought I have decided to release some of my own personal collection to the collectors around the world who appreciate this marvelous technique. With the rare exception, all of these stone lithos are from my personal collection and are my artist proofs that I have saved through the years. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have enjoyed creating them. Notable artists of the 19th and 20th century, such as Picasso, Giacometti, Toulouse Lautrec, and Miró have worked in stone lithography. In 1982, I wanted to attempt, at least once, to create a stone lithograph. What turned out to be only an experiment became a journey of many years. What is so exciting about lithography is its flexibility. It can be as unique as the artist who is willing to learn the rigors of the technique. It is not in any way the mere reproduction of a work made earlier in the artist's studio. When the artist starts his design on the litho stone, it is the stone that dictates how the process will continue. The process has so many possibilities that the excitement comes from following the path the process takes you along. If the idea is there, the technique can be found. If the printer has an understanding of the old techniques, then a mistake or a flaw in the stone can become a doorway to an even better idea. The desire to create is fundamental to the artist and the act of creation is a metaphysical experience. Painting for me has been a means to describe, record, and explore the universe around me and my relationship with it. It has been, however, my 30 year love affair with stone lithography that has helped me most to define this metaphysical journey. —Michael Parkes

Dante

Gift of Wonder

Beatrice

“As human beings, we limit our sense of perception to what is generally comfortable and present in everyday life. In limiting our perceptions to suit our individuality, we miss the vastness of other perceptions and the doors they represent. Though we have been conditioned to perceive nothing except our own world, this does not mean we cannot enter other realms.” —Michael Parkes

On Front Cover: The Garden   |  2003  |  Original Stone Lithograph  |  39.5 x 26.5 inches

The Letter 2005  |  Original Stone Lithograph  |  32 x 23.5 inches

Q: How did stone lithography develop as an art form?

Sacred Fire I 1995  |  Original Stone Lithograph  |  19.75 x 29.5 inches

Sacred Fire II 1995  |  Original Stone Lithograph  |  19.75 x 29.5 inches

a: The truly artistic use of the lithographic technique came into its own just before the turn of the 20th century. The art dealer, Ambroise Vollard, encouraged a generation of artists to work in the new medium. Cezanne, Bonnard, Redon, Renoir, Gauguin, Munch, Rouault, Manet, Vuillard all experimented with the possibilities of lithography. But was the work of Toulouse Lautrec, however, that more than any other changed the approach of lithography for 20th century artists. He worked ceaselessly to understand the printer's skills and invented techniques that artists use in color lithography today. 

Angel Affair 1986  |  Original Stone Lithograph  |  27.5 x 20.75 inches

Going Nowhere 2001  |  Original Stone Lithograph  |  27.25 x 37.25 inches

Q: What is so special about lithographic stones? a: These stones have a presence. Some print-shops keep a record of who has used each stone, and a particular stone may have a tremendous lineage. If you're very fortunate, you might come across a stone that was used by Whistler, ToulouseLautrc or Giacometti. 

The Court Painter 2002  |  Original Stone Lithograph  |  21 x 33 inches

The best lithographic stones in the world come from one valley in Bavaria, and the supply is now effectively quarried out. This Bavarian limestone is about 160 million years old and some of these stones in europe have been in lithograph workshops for over a 100 years. They are, on average, about 4" (10 cm) thick. They are extremely heavy and a hydraulic easel is needed to move them about. The bigger they are the more fragile they are and can crack easily if not handled properly. The bigger the stone lithograph, the more difficult it is to print.

The Frog Collector  • The Seahorse Collector  • The Egg Collector  • The Puppet Collector 2007  |  Original Stone Lithograph  |  13.75 x 13.375 inches

Danae 1992  |  Original Stone Lithograph  |  32.5 x 25 inches

Night & Day 1992  |  Original Stone Lithograph 40.5 x 29 inches

Jeanne D’ Arc 2003  |  Original Stone Lithograph  |  26.75 x 33 inches

Oasis

Summer

2001  |  Original Stone Lithograph  |  17.5 x 26 inches

1994  |  Original Stone Lithograph  |  18.5 x 28.25 inches

The Secret 2002  |  Original Stone Lithograph  |  36.5 x 24.5 inches

Pale Swan 1996  |  Original Stone Lithograph 25.25 x 17.75 inches

Q: What appeals to you about stone lithography? a: Its’ flexibility. The process entails going prepared with an idea and then during the process of printing, all sorts of things can happen: a color is printed too strong, an imperfection in the stone starts to show up, the first etch is too weak or too strong…so many things can happen. Because the paper is wet throughout the whole process, there is a time limit in getting the edition out and you are forced to go into a zone of making quick decisions, one right after another. Sometimes it works and other times it doesn't. You have, if you are lucky as I was, master printers who can help with the techniques that they have learned from their masters and by trial and error of decades in the profession. The sense of possibilities is tremendous. But the unpredictability is also tremendous. It truly is a living process where so much creative energy is generated and exchanged. 

Beatrice Alone 1998  |  Original Stone Lithograph 27.25 x 21.75 inches

Anubis 1999  |  Original Stone Lithograph  |  27.75 x 38.5 inches

Rainbow Sphinx

Moon Harp

The Riddle

1990  |  Original Stone Lithograph 29.5 x 21.75 inches

1995  |  Original Stone Lithograph 29.5 x 19.75 inches

1999  |  Original Stone Lithograph 37 x 28 inches

The String Game 2006  |  Original Stone Lithograph  |  16.75 x 24.5 inches

The Chess Game 2006  |  Original Stone Lithograph  |  16.75 x 24.5 inches

Concerti Vivaldi 1991  |  Original Stone Lithograph  |  28 x 39.75 inches

Savitri 1988  |  Original Stone Lithograph 28.75 x 21.75 inches

Q: What do you mean by ‘living process’? a: The process is a bit like life in that you can never go back again. At least it is so with my printers. You can try and correct a mistake, and sometimes make an even better image, but there is no erasing or eliminating what has been printed. Once a color is printed, it is erased from the stone and another color is prepared for the next print. As the days go on, the paper begins to subtlety shrink because of the drying process, thereby causing registration problems. This is particularly difficult with my stone lithographs as I usually have an average of 10 colors per image. And my images are very detailed!   As in life, it is this constant unknown ahead of me during the process of printing a stone lithograph that I find most exciting. And an edition must be finished within 5 to 6 days of printing if the paper is to stay wet. Printing starts at 7 am and goes until 5pm. The printers go home but I need to stay and prepare the next color on the stone, usually into the early hours of the morning.  Sadly, one of my printers has died, the other one is not in good health, and I am getting to the age that I do not have the stamina that it takes to do a stone lithograph. But as I look at my collection of stone lithographs, I can feel each sheet carries in it some of the energy put in the process to create it.  And so the energy of this creative process does continue in each and every stone lithograph's image. I will always be grateful for the dedication of Helmut and Peter, my master printers, to allow these works of art to come alive.

Diamond Warrior 1989  |  Original Stone Lithograph  |  20.75 x 26.75 inches

Mayan Spring 1987  |  Original Stone Lithograph  |  30 x 22 inches

Dawn 1998  |  Original Stone Lithograph  |  17.75 x 30.75 inches

Q: How do the drawings that you have been doing recently relate to the stone lithographs that you have done in the past? a: When I realized that after 30 years, my relationship with stone lithography was coming to an end, I was devastated. It had become such an important part of the overall creative process for me. In effect, it had taught me a unique way to draw. My drawings now are a way of continuing, in some part, my relationship with stone lithography because I use the same technique on the vellum drawings that I would have done on stone. Because, indeed, my introduction to drawing on vellum came about when I was learning the stone lithographic process. The transparency of the material enables the artist to see where each color is to be placed and its’ approximate effect. Q: The drawings have such a sense of calm and order, even when there is action, how is that achieved?

The Key 2001  |  Original Stone Lithograph  |  24.5 x 36.5 inches

a: I have always been fascinated with the period of the Renaissance, especially while studying the drawings of these great masters. Their drawings represent the thought process by which the viewer can better understand how the final decisions are made in a master work. That is why they are so appealing to many. Renaissance drawings suit my personal interest in art because it  is as if they put down a ground work of calm, or silence, before they started dealing with their subjects. And I believe, to some extent,  if you break down their compositions mathematically  you will find the ‘sacred numbers’ of the Ancients and see that this is true. The Renaissance literally means ‘rebirth’ and the knowledge of the ancient past, particularly the sacred mathematics, was being rediscovered and used in all of their arts.

The Golden Serpent 2000  |  Original Stone Lithograph 25.5 x 17.75 inches

The Golden Salamander 1991  |  Original Stone Lithograph 28.25 x 21.25 inches

Cleopatra 1990  |  Original Stone Lithograph  |  26.75 x 36.25 inches

Angel That Stops Time 1992  |  Original Stone Lithograph 34.75 x 24 inches

A Gift for the Disillusioned Man 1990  |  Original Stone Lithograph  |  26.25 x19.25 inches

Winter 2004  |  Original Stone Lithograph  |  11.75 x 35.5 inches

The Mask 1996  |  Original Stone Lithograph  |  26 x 37.75 inches

Aditi 1990 Original Stone Lithograph 38.5 x 26.75 inches

Persepolis 2000  |  Original Stone Lithograph  |  27.5 x 35.5 inches

Spring 2004  |  Original Stone Lithograph  |  11 x 35.5 inches

Ex Libris 2006  |  Original Stone Lithograph 11 x 12 inches

Creating Eve 2000  |  Original Stone Lithograph  |  17.75 x 25.5 inches

The Promise 1989  |  Original Stone Lithograph  |  34.25 x 24.5 inches

Returning the Sphere 1991  |  Original Stone Lithograph  |  24.75 x 34.75 inches

Aurorima Dreaming

Ballet Mistress

Summer Memories

1992  |  Original Stone Lithograph 32.25 x 23.75 inches

1994  |  Original Stone Lithograph 27.5 x 18.5 inches

1995  |  Original Stone Lithograph 29.5 x 19.75 inches

The Creation 1987  |  Original Stone Lithograph  |  28 x 39.75 inches

Running the Bath 1990  |  Original Stone Lithograph  |  21.75 x 27.5 inches

Rain 1994  |  Original Stone Lithograph 28 x 19.75 inches

Q: Michael, you were born in the State of Missouri, studied at the University of Kansas, and taught drawing, printmaking, and art history for four years. What motivated you at the age of 26 for you and your wife to change everything and go to Europe and Asia? a: I had always had two loves in my life…art and philosophy. After graduate school and some time of teaching art, I realized that although I had certain technical skills, I had neither the ideas nor the motivation to continue as an artist. So the obvious decision was to pursue my second love, philosophy, (particularly Eastern philosophy). My great fortune was that I met a girl that shared not only my love of these two subjects, but had the courage to drop everything and pursue our journey of discovery in philosophy wherever that would take us. So for the next four years we traveled and studied. In our youthful naiveté and enthusiasm, we wanted to try to find not only the source of the great religions, but the source of everything! Unfortunately reality brought us back to earth when money ran out or illness intervened and ultimately we returned to Europe for a break. Q: I know that you live in a magical village on the Mediterranean Sea in Spain. What made you decide to settle indefinitely in Spain in 1974? a: We were in India when our daughter was born 1974 and the need for some stability in our lives brought us back to Europe to a village in Spain where we had visited a couple of years before. Spain was under the dictatorship of Franco at that time but it had two advantages, inexpensive living and sun most of the year. In later years, when I eventually started to paint again, I realized that we had a third reason. We had chosen a place with the most wonderful yellow light for any artist to work. Q: When did you start painting again? a: Maria and I tried numerous jobs to make a living in Spain until a fortuitous coincidence brought me back to painting. Within a short period of time, I met a Spanish painter who helped me begin to think about painting and a gallery owner who was interested in having some paintings for his new gallery. The two things together, plus the fact we were perpetually out of money, helped me to decide to give painting a second try. This was when I realized that our time of study and travel had given me the basis for a new way of looking at creating art. I began to try to visually translate the philosophical explorations of previous years. Also I started experimenting with stone lithography at this time. Q: Considering your rapid international recognition and success from that point and which continues through the writing of this interview (35 years later) what would you attribute to this great success? a: My success was anything but rapid! There were many years of painting from one small exhibition to the next, trying to understand and to define how I could translate abstract, philosophical concepts into visual reality. There were many disasters in those early years that are best not to see the light of day! Slowly, by 1980, I began to feel a bit more comfortable in handling these broad esoteric concepts in visual form. And when that happened, it seems that I began to gain an audience.

Q: Why have you succeeded where so many have failed? a: The study of philosophy in its broadest terms should go to the core of our existence and ask those fundamental questions that are the basis of every religion. Because my studies continue to this day (and I continue to ask those core questions), it is the basis for my art work. So to simply say, it is the content behind the paintings that give them value, not the technique, as there are many artists that have the highest of technical skills but may have little to say. Ultimately, my view of art is that I am story teller and the story is a vast and deep landscape of an interior world that we all share…no easy challenge. Q: Because of the complexity in space and time of the many historical influences which you have been able to fuse in your work with such an amazing naturalness, you truly have an individual style that is uniquely your own. Your landscapes cannot be pinned down to a geographical location, your figures cannot be placed in any period of art history. Can you explain a bit more about that? a: What you have described is very intentional. The costuming, the landscapes and even the figures themselves are designed to create a kind of limbo where the viewer has to ask, ‘Where am I?’ Even though there are certain historical references in my images, the symbols are intermixed from different time periods to produce a collective effect or dream state. Because I want the figures in my work to represent a certain energy, or state of consciousness, I do not use live models. Q: Yet your art gives us a feeling of identification with contemporary reality. What is unusual is that the images and figures are from another world, whose interpretation is left up to us. How can your work feel so contemporary when you are dealing with subjects from the distant past. a: The one thing that I have realized is that if I am truly connecting with archetypal symbols in my work, they apply to everyone and everyone responds on some level. Of course, to get the balance of the symbols right each time is virtually impossible. So the exciting thing about making art is the constant challenge of creating a window through which the viewer feels comfortable enough to step this unknown space. And once you are in that space, there is the strange sensation that you have been there before or there is some personal connection. Q: It is tempting to speak of a dream world with you, if it were not for the fact that your dream world surpasses all our dreams in audacity, freedom and insistency. The visible reality is there but it is not the familiar reality we know. How would you refer to your world? a: The big misunderstanding is the idea that our collective dream world is an illusion. It may be our strongest reality. The confusion is that the many symbols that we identify with come from different states of consciousness and therefore are somewhat difficult to decipher. My sole intention in my images is to try to find a sequence, or combinations of symbols, that invite the viewer into a space that seems foreign and at the same time, strangely comfortable. Because that space, in reality, is their own.

About Michael Parkes Michael Parkes is the world’s leading magical realist painter, sculptor, and stone lithographer. His decades of success as a fine artist stand out in the art world, where fewer than 1% of artists ever achieve success in both the primary and secondary markets. Parkes’ works are collected by celebrities, private collectors, and galleries around the world, and his body of work stands for the ages. That being said, Parkes’ continues to create new works, all of which are widely sought after. Place in Art History John Russell Taylor, art critic for the London Times and art contributor to The New York Times, says: “Compare [Parkes] with even the best of them, such as Mobius of Theo van den Boogaard, and the difference is immediately apparent. His technique is more painterly, his imagination much less tied within the confines of narrative. In fact, narrative is the last thing one thinks of, confronted with one of Parkes’ images. Parkes, like Alma-Tadema, has developed outstanding skill in the rendering of veined marble and the textures of various fabrics as they cling to or fall from the curves of his remote yet inviting female figures.” “With Parkes we may be reminded, now of some Victorian, now of Botticelli, now of Tiepolo, now (though much more infrequently) of Goya. But all of these, though Parkes has undoubtedly observed them, have been absorbed into an entirely modern sensibility. If we were looking for a twentiethcentury stalking horse, we might well look to Surrealists like Dali and Magritte.” “There is one important distinction, however. In Surrealism, there is always a sense of stress and [the] blues beneath the smooth and soigné surface. Maybe there was a touch of that in Parkes at the beginning of his latest phase: the clowns and dwarfs could seem threatening, not all the

animals had their claws safely sheathed. But Parkes always seemed to be at least hankering after calm and tranquility, and in his latest works he has achieved it.” Personal History Parkes could draw even before he could read and write. He was an only child, raised in Canalou, Missouri, a typical American Midwest town in the fifties. He attended art school where he met the woman, artist and musician to whom he remains married more than three decades later, Maria Sedoff. Parkes taught college level Art History as the young couple made their way in the Vietnam era. Parkes has been a serious and lifelong student of spirituality and esoterica. Together in the seventies, Michael and Maria set off on a spiritual journey where they found excellent teachers and a lifelong passion for India. Returning to Spain soon after their only daughter was born, Michael and Maria worked together to form a financially stable venture in art, beginning with humbly making and selling leather belts to tourists to achieving the internationally prestigious recognition as a master that Parkes enjoys today. Parkes remains humble and as much like your favorite neighbor as the sage weaver of myth and dreams whom we know through his art. Michael and Maria enjoy their life in Spain.

On Back Cover: Wein  |  1993  |  Original Stone Lithograph  |  39.75 x 28 inches

The

Stone T rea su r y of

Michael

Parkes Michael Parkes stands alone in his mastery of Hand-pulled, Hand Crafted Original Stone Lithographs. This world-class artist has produced the most stunning and complex images that span over 30 years with over 100 highly sought after individual editions. Michael Parkes has captured a world that is rare and beautiful in this complex and unique art form. The most successful images in the long and storied career of Michael Parkes are coming to an end. The Stone Lithographs are now a piece of history and are becoming increasingly rare. Michael Parkes has used his creative mind and amazing drawing skills to etch and draw on each and every stone a piece of living history. He has devoted his love and creativity to this very special medium in each and every Stone Lithograph. His complete involvement is unique and amazing in the time that is required and skill that is demanded. We are fortunate that Michael Parks is releasing his personal collection of rare and previously sold out images. There never has been, and never will be, an artist that has succeeded in this medium as Michael Parkes has. His love affair with Stone Lithographs can now be shared with collectors all over the world.

© 2011 Michael Parkes all rights reserved. www.theworldofmichaelparkes.com