Parra - Photo of the artist - Photo Credits The Hundreds

Parra /   Pieter Janssen

Netherlands 1976

Sculpture, Painting

Pieter Janssen
May 16, 2016
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You may not know him by the birth name of Pieter Janssen, but you will probably hear a bell ring when you hear his alias Parra – this is a famous Dutch illustrator, painter and animator that has been creating amazing pieces of art for over two decades now. He found himself under the public scope for his post-Pop representations populated by mutated figures with elongated beak-like noses and a uniquely simple style of dominant colors. Known for his wide scope and variety, Parra has been creating both fine arts and things as simple as T-shirts, making him a household name in both sneaker stores and art galleries around the world.

Parra - Bar love, 2016 (Left) ---- The escape, 2016 (Right) - open time in dutch is like the 2012 case in gallery based with a mural
Parra – Bar love, 2016 (Left) / The escape, 2016 (Right)

Before Pieter Janssen Was Parra

Pieter Janssen was born in Maastricht, The Netherlands, during the year of 1976. Long before he became Parra, Pieter started drawing and designing posters for the ever-present music scene of Amsterdam. Janssen has been doing that job ever since the early 1990s and that experience will prove to be critical for his future career. Referenced by his musical flyers, the artist was commissioned by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoMA) in 2012. The job that was asked from Pieter was to create a 60-foot indoor mural the artist later titled Weirded Out – this remarkable piece is still a part of SFMoMA’s permanent collection. What helped Janssen shine is the past experience of designing posters in Amsterdam – he relied on his signature hand-drawn approach to illustration to get the job done. After the initial success with the San Francisco Museum, Pieter went on and collaborated with such brands as NIKE and InCase. Such agreements and deals really put his name on the map of the most wanted artists out there. Soon after that, Janssen created the pseudonym Parra and has been using it ever since. He became famous for his witty and frank interpretation of glamor, pop culture and mass consumption – as well as the fact he was simultaneously active on two fronts, one of the fine arts and the other of popular clothes designing. By the details you’ve seen so far, you can already assume that Janssen is pretty much self-taught – which is very remarkable when you consider the amount of talent he developed and the kinds of commissions that have come his way over the years.

Parra - Love lost, 2016 - open time in dutch is like the 2012 case in gallery based with a mural
Parra – Love lost, 2016

Parra’s Work In All It’s Glory

By Parra’s own admission, what inspires him the most is the everyday and the awkward – whether he finds it somewhere on the internet, tucked away in a chapter of some book or in the events he accidently stumbles upon during regular walks outside. Finding motivation in such general things gives Janssen much room to exaggerate what he perceives, to install irony and humor into themes every one of us can relate to. If we were attempting to analyze Parra’s work, we would have to say that it heavily relies on contrasts and the effects caused by them. His pieces are simultaneously figurative and abstract, both colorful and plain – there is something beautiful in the way Janssen finds these balances. His pieces are intentionally created to seem simple, but do not be fooled – every painting has a deeper meaning and Parra’s organization of compositions is excellent. For obvious reasons, Parra’s images have been often compared to those of Keith Haring and Victor Moscoso – although there is no denying that Pieter Janssen has a style of his own that does not allow easy associating with any artist out there. It should also be noted that Pieter Janssen is a co-founder of cult label ByParra and is a member of two electronic music groups – Le Le and Mich. Parra’s works have been exhibited in galleries across Europe and North America for years now, never failing to attract much attention and eager audiences. One of the most iconic shows so far in his career is the And wait for something to happen exhibition that displays pieces with featured chubby females experiencing both the normal and abnormal in a metaphoric and literal sense. If you are interested in viewing his work, you can do that by visiting Parra’s second exhibition at Ruttkowski;68 gallery. The show is titled I can’t look at your face anymore and is a multimedia showcase of work that includes canvas, sculptures and objects.

Parra’s paintings rely on seemingly simple coloration, heavy contrasts and intelligent compositions

Parra - Love gained, 2016 - open time in dutch is like the 2012 case in gallery based with a mural
Parra – Love gained, 2016

An Excellent Artist On Few Fronts

It’s impressive how Parra managed to find success by translating his eccentric approach and style into fine art works. Most artist would find this sudden change a hard one, but this does not seem to be the case for Pieter Janssen. Parra has been able to achieve something many of his fellow artist have not been able to do so easily – to establish a style that is both completely recognizable and unique. No matter if he is working in clothes design, simple drawing, painting, animation or sculpture, Parra creates an enigmatic and seductive style that defies easy categorisation. It should also be noted that Parra is still quite young, so we can expect to see many new and original things from him in the future. It will be interesting to see where will his style take him next.

The artist is represented by Galleria Patricia Armocida in Milano, Italy.

Parra lives and works in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Featured Image: Parra – Photo of the artist – Photo Credits The Hundreds
All Images Courtesy Of Parra

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group 
2016I Can’t Look at Your Face AnymoreRuttkowski;68 Gallery, Cologne Solo
2015Yer So BadJonathan Levine Gallery, New YorkSolo
2015Parra (a 10 year survey, The story so far)Kunsthal, RotterdamSolo
2015SalutAlice Gallery, BrusselsSolo
2014Art Truancy: Celebrating 20 Years of Juxtapoz MagazineJonathan LeVine Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2013Tracy Had a Hard SundayJonathan LeVine Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
2013And wait for something to happenRuttkowski 68 Gallery, CologneSolo
2013Il Senso di ColpaGalleria Patricia Armocida, MilanSolo
2013Tracy had a hard SundayJonathan Levine Gallery, New YorkSolo
2013UN-LIMITED, A Poster ProjectMusée des beaux-arts, Le LocleGroup
2013This is not MusicLa Friche Belle de Mai, MarseilleGroup
2012Parra - Weirded OutSan Francisco Museum of Modern Art - SFMOMA, San Francisco, CASolo
2012Kind regretsHVW8 Gallery, Los AngelesSolo
2012The How Original ShowHVW8 Gallery, Los AngelesSolo
2011Animate EverythingProtein Gallery, LondonGroup
2010The Amsterdam ShowCommon Gallery, TokyoSolo
2010Yes Yes YesProject Space, Los AngelesSolo
2010Never Judge…?Stolen Space Gallery, LondonGroup
2010Go Font YourselfPeer Gallery, SydneyGroup
2009The disco of ItaloGalleria Patricia Armocida, MilanSolo
2009I Like the Tee Shirt but I Will Get the PaintingPool Gallery, BerlinSolo
2009The Disco of ItaloPatricia Armocida Gallery, MilanSolo
2009Is That a Gun My Friend?HVW8 Gallery, Los AngelesSolo
2009Smile On Your BrotherLivestock, VancouverGroup
2009Bad Day issue #4Emporium Gallery, Montreal, CanadaGroup
2008YESMama, RotterdamGroup
2008Love Design DeliriumKunstraum Niederösterreich, ViennaGroup
2008Boo to the HooLazy Dog Gallery, ParisSolo
200750 Years of HelveticaDesign Museum, LondonGroup
2007I love TourismFondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, VeniceGroup
2007ParrivedArrive, MiamiSolo
2007LaLaLaHVW8 Gallery, Los AngelesSolo
2007The Of BestVallery Galley, BarcelonaSolo
2007Random TitsReed Space, New YorkSolo
2006Tits and TypoKemistry Gallery, LondonSolo
2006The Art of ParraToykyo, GhentSolo
2006I really like it but could you change the colors & the design?Lazy Dog Gallery, ParisSolo
2005Jobs I do for friends for less than 100 poundsKemistry Gallery, LondonSolo