Mike Parr - Photo of the artist sydney gallery presents the new portrait exhibition- Image via thesaturdaypaper

Mike Parr/ Mike Parr

Australia 1945

Performance Art, Prints

Mike Parr
Mike Parr
Male
Australia
1945

Easily passing as both one of the most notorious and innovative individuals modern art history has to offer from its arsenal, Mike Parr is arguably the most significant active Australian artist who works in the fields of performance art and print-making. Emerging from a background of conceptual art in the early 1970s, Mike is internationally renowned mostly for his provocative performance pieces which have a tendency of pushing the boundaries of extreme and acceptable within art. While working in and between a diverse range of media (performance, video, drawing and printmaking), the autobiographical inclusion is a foundational concept to which the artist frequently returns. It should also be noted that Mike is the brother of the famous installation and photography artist, Julie Rrap, also known as Julie Brown-Rrap.

Sydney gallery and Melbourne gallery's new media exhibition of self-portrait Mike made for Schwartz

Path to the Extreme

Mike Parr spent his childhood in rural Queensland, an Australian state covering the continent’s northeast region, famous for its coastline that stretches nearly 7,000 km in length and is a home to the world’s largest coral reef system (Great Barrier Reef) and thousands of marine species. Parr’s childhood was marked by a handicap as he was born with a misshapen arm – a fact that will heavily influence his future art. Since he was always attracted to unorthodox artistic expression, Mike pursued a combined degree of arts and law at the local University of Queensland. He began his college days in the year of 1965 but discontinued his studies soon after he enrolled with the second year. In 1968, Parr relocated to Sydney. He started attending classes at the National Art School to study painting for a brief period of time, yet again proving to himself that he is not a good fit with what other people call traditional art. It would take him a few more years before Parr started to feel the success of his artistic endeavors. In 1970, he and his friend Peter Kennedy established now iconic Inhibodress – an artists’ collaborative and alternative space where conceptual, video and performance art were treated as focal points and not accessories. It was around this time that Mike started doing his now iconic performance pieces. His early work was designed to have one main goal and that was to get a reaction from the audience, preferably a disturbing one. For example, in one of Parr’s earlier works, he sits in front of the viewers and begins talking to them without revealing what awaits them mere seconds away. Suddenly, Mike gets out a cleaver and begins hacking into his prosthetic arm which he has previously filled with minced meat and fake blood.

Mike Parr gained fame due the extreme lengths he was willing to go in order to convey his messages

Self-body exhibitions within Sydney gallery and South Wales gallery are the crown of Australia
Mike Parr – I am Sick of Art, 1977 (Left) / Armchop, 1977 (Right)- Images via dailybulletin.com.au

Various Fields

Parr’s artistic vocabulary, at least the performance aspect of it, was always marked by a keen exploration of one’s physical limits, underlined by a regular note of memory and subjectivity. Dee to such concepts, Mike’s performances have often been based on horrific events such as self-mutilation or extreme physical feats as the case was with his famous 100 Breaths or aforementioned Armchop. This is also the reason why Mike’s work is regularly described as notorious. After Parr performs his pieces, they are documented both via photography and video. Marking the second part of Parr’s artistic career, Mike’s prints are a story for themselves. By his own acclaim, the artist started drawing in the year of 1981 because around that time he stopped doing the body art performances of the 1970s. His mature prints represent a strong contrast to his often disturbing performances and consist of beautiful etchings featuring a barrage of raw and spiky lines. Like Parr’s other pieces, his prints also explore the potentials and boundaries of one’s memory distortions, proving yet again Mike’s fascination with this particular field[1]. In a sense, his prints can be interpreted as memories of views that have long passed by. The year of 2002 was the marking point of Parr’s most challenging performance to date, titled For Water from the Mouth – Mike was held at the gallery space where the artist was isolated in a room for ten full days, without human contact or anything other but water. Another famous performance piece Parr is the proud author of was A Stitch in Time. In it, Mike recorded himself having his lips and face extensively stitched with threads that shaped his facial expression into a caricature of shame. All the years after that, including 2016, proved that many Australian media shows and Sydney gallery were interested and in search for Parr’s artistic self-pieces, evidencing that he is still rather intriguing despite being active for so long.

Besides producing his provocative performance pieces, Parr is also active in other fields and mediums as well

Both Melbourne and South Wales are good locations to search for the new Schwartz exhibition
Mike Parr – Untitled Self-Portrait 1995 – Image via museum-joanneum.at

Testing the Boundaries

Mike Parr can safely be regarded as one of those artists who like to see how far they can take their work, how extreme can one’s art get and at what price. Due to that fact, the audiences have picked up on his interesting and unique ideas, which naturally reflected on his popularity. Always followed by a notorious note that simply demands attention, Parr’s works have been exhibited extensively both in Australia and internationally, with his shows garnering much success in countries like Brazil, Cuba, France, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and the United States of America. Ultimately, another aspect of Mike’ work attracts the viewers as well besides its extreme nature – Parr’s work confronts the entirely arbitrary nature of meaning in art. And this has been the magic ingredient that will forever ensure this artist’s work will always be both intriguing and well noticed.

Mike Parr lives and works in Sydney, Australia.

References:

  1. Marsh, A., Wilding, G., Mike Parr: Edelweiss, Moderne Kunst Nürnberg, April 30, 2013

Featured image: Mike Parr – Photo of the artist in a gallery – Image via thesaturdaypaper.com.au
All images used for illustrative purposes only.

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
201620th Biennale of Sydney Biennale of Sydney, Sydney, NSW Group
2015Mike Parr - Dark Cave Anna Schwartz Gallery - Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC Solo
2015Mike Parr - Deep North Anna Schwartz Gallery - Sydney, Sydney, NSW Solo
2015Black Square – 100 Years (1913 – 1915) TCB art inc., Melbourne, VIC Group
2015Personal Structures Crossing Borders Palazzo Bembo Exhibitions, Venice Group
2015Streetwise: contemporary print culture National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, ACT Group
2015Art as a Verb Artspace Sydney, Sydney, NSW Group
2015Art as a Verb Flinders University Art Museum & City Gallery, Adelaide, SA Group
2014Art as a Verb Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne, VICGroup
201420-200 Sarah Cottier Gallery, Sydney, NSW Group
2014Trace: Performance and its Documents Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, QLD Group
2014Fully Figurative Newcastle Art Gallery, Newcastle, NSW Group
2013Mike Parr - Easter Island Anna Schwartz Gallery - Sydney, Sydney, NSW Solo
2013Mike Parr ARNDT, Berlin Solo
2013Self-Portraits ARNDT Singapore, Singapore Group
2013Unbound and Bound Macquarie University, North Ryde, NSW Group
2013The Red Queen Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart, TAS Group
2013Direct Democracy Monash University Museum of Art, Clayton, VIC Group
2013Through A Glass Darkly - Faces Past And PresentErnst Museum Budapest, Budapest Group
2012Mike Parr - Edelweiß Museumsquartier, Vienna Solo
2012Mike Parr. Edelweiß. Kunsthalle wien project space karlsplatz, Vienna Solo
2012Mike Parr: Brain Coral National Art School Gallery (NAS), Sydney, NSW Solo
2012Faces Ernst Museum Budapest, Budapest Group
2012Polaroids: Post-punk Photography In Brisbane, 1979–1982 David Pestorius Projects, Brisbane, QLD Group
2012In abstraction, the body Anna Schwartz Gallery - Sydney, Sydney, NSW Group
2012Inner worlds: portraits and psychology The Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne, VIC Group
2011The Golden Age Anna Schwartz Gallery - Sydney, Sydney, NSW Solo
2011Black Box White Cube The Arts Centre, Melbourne, VIC Group
2011New Contemporary Galleries - John Caldor Family Collection Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW Group
2011Physical Video Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, QLD Group
2011Let the Healing Begin Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, Brisbane, QLD Group
2011Afterglow: performance art and photography Monash Gallery of Art, Wheelers Hill, Victoria Group
2010Hayman Collection Volume 1 Horsham Regional Art Gallery, Horsham, VIC Solo
2010Mike Parr - The Hallelujah Chorus Anna Schwartz Gallery - Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC Solo
2010Change Monash University Museum of Art, Clayton, VIC Group
2010The River Project Campbelltown Arts Centre, Campbelltown, NSW Group
2010Gestures & Procedures Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, VIC Group
2010Miscellanea Tim Olsen Gallery, Sydney, NSW Group
2010Contemporary Australian Drawings 1 RMIT Gallery, Melbourne, VIC Group
2010The 4th Auckland Triennial - Last Ride in a Hot Air Balloon Auckland Art Gallery - Toi o Tāmaki, Auckland Group
2009Mike Parr The Art Vault, Mildura, VIC Solo
2009Angels & DemonsMichael Lett, Auckland Group
20093rd Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art Moscow Biennale of contemporary art, Moscow Group
2009Terra Nullius - Zeitgenössische Kunst aus Australien Halle 14, Leipzig Group
2009Terra Nullius - Zeitgenössische Kunst aus Australien ACC Galerie Weimar, Weimar Group
2008Mike Parr Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart, Hobart, TASSolo
2008Mike Parr Anna Schwartz Gallery - Sydney, Sydney, NSW Solo
2008Artspace 24-25 Artspace Sydney, Sydney, NSW Group
2008Aus Australien Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, Christchurch Group
200816th Biennale of Sydney: Forms that Turn Biennale of Sydney, Sydney, NSW Group
2007Mike Parr - Early Performances On Video Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, Brisbane, QLD Solo
2007Mike Parr Anna Schwartz Gallery - Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC Solo
2007Eye to "i" - the self in recent art Ballarat Fine Art Gallery, Ballarat, VIC Group
2007Into Me, Out of Me MACRO Testaccio (MACRO Future), Rome Group
2007Australian Works on Paper Rex Irwin Art Dealer, Woollahra, NSW Group
2007Backward Glance: Important works from the 1980s John Buckley Gallery, Richmond, VIC Group
2006Mike Parr Anna Schwartz Gallery - Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC Solo
2006Mike Parr Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation - SCAF, Sydney, NSW Solo
2006Mike Parr - Volte Face Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney - MCA, Sydney, NSW Solo
2006Screenings NGV National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, VIC Group
2006Tomorrow, AgainArtspace Sydney, Sydney, NSW Group
2006Before the Body - Matter - Monash University Museum of Art, Clayton, VIC Group
2006Masquerade Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney - MCA, Sydney, NSW Group
2005Mike Parr Anna Schwartz Gallery - Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC Solo
2005Kingdom Come and-or Punch Holes In The Body Politic Artspace Sydney, Sydney, NSW Solo
2005Unscripted - language in contemporary art Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW Group
2005Identity & Desire - Australian Contemporary Art Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, SAGroup
2005TEXT ME: An Exploration of Body Language Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation - SCAF, Sydney, NSW Group
2004Before Night - After Nature Monash University Museum of Art, Clayton, VIC Group
20042004 Drawing Biennale ANU Campus, Canberra, ACT Group
2004To Look Within: Self Portraits in Australia National Portrait Gallery , Canberra, ACT Group
2003Mike Parr Anna Schwartz Gallery - Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC Solo
2003Film noir, politique blanche Perth Cultural Centre, Perth, WA Group
2003Selected works from the University of Melbourne Art Collection The Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne, VIC Group
2002Screen Life Gertrude contemporary art spaces, Melbourne, VIC Group
2002Energy Fields Monash University Museum of Art, Clayton, VIC Group
2001Mike Parr Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation - SCAF, Sydney, NSW Solo
2001Mike Parr Anna Schwartz Gallery - Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC Solo
2001Water From The Mouth Artspace Sydney, Sydney, NSW Solo
2001Lightness of Being: Contemporary Photographic Art from Australia Monash University Museum of Art, Clayton, VIC Group
2001Home and away - recent acquisitions from the Chartwell collection Wellington City Gallery, Wellington Group
2001Striking Monash Gallery of Art, Wheelers Hill, Victoria Group
2000John Nixon and Mike Parr Galerie Conny Dietzschold, Cologne Group
200012th Biennale of Sydney 2000 Biennale of Sydney, Sydney, NSW Group
1999Group Show Sarah Cottier Gallery, Sydney, NSW Group
1999Telling Tales - Neue Galerie Graz Universalmuseum Joanneum, Graz Group
1999Liverpool Biennial 1999 Liverpool Biennial of Contemporary Art, Liverpool Group
1998Telling Tales College of Fine Arts, Sydney, NSW Group
1997VI Bienal de La Habana Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Wifredo Lam, Havana Group
1996Systems End-Contemporary Art in Australia Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Art, Kaohsiung City Group
1996Systems end; Contemporary Art in Australia Hakone Open-Air Museum, Hakone Group
199525 Years of Performance Art in Australia Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, VIC Group
199425 Years of Performance Art in Australia Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, Brisbane, QLD Group
199425 Years of Performance Art in Australia College of Fine Arts, Sydney, NSW Group
1993Mike Parr Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney, NSW Solo
1992Group Show Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney, NSW Group
1991Mike Parr Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney, NSW Solo
1991Off The Wall - In The Air: A Seventies Collection Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, VIC Group
1990Inland Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, VIC Group
1990Group Show Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney, NSW Group
1989Mike Parr Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney, NSW Solo
1989Satellite Cultures New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York City, NY Group
1988Inhibodress 1970–72 Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, Brisbane, QLD Group
1987Mike Parr Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney, NSW Solo
1985Mike Parr - Portage Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney, NSW Solo
1983Mike Parr Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, Brisbane, QLD Solo
1981Mike Parr Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, Brisbane, QLD Solo