Spanierman Modern

This exhibition includes two sets of paintings addressing slightly different themes. The first consists of paintings with closely related colors and precariously balanced, stacked forms. In them, large masses tend to hover, break up, or dissolve. Some appear weightless while others seem heavy and earthbound. For example, in Behind and Below, the variegated shades of red are similar, but a large pink form threatens to break off and float away. Another form, outlined in black, suggests a void or a missing shape.
In the second group, including Bodies at Rest, I Found It Here, and In the Margins, Parker uses layers of white and tinted color along with charcoal marks that form partially smudged grids. Other marks stubbornly take on importance, often setting the emotional tone for a painting. In the Margins is dominated by a massive, centrally placed white square. However, the interesting part of the painting is in the layered history located at its edges.
Although Parker is influenced by the attitude and rigor of the New York School, she strives for an expressive vision that is modest rather than sublime. She says, “My paintings are a recording of the quiet and personal—moments of everyday life filtered through the particular and profound.”

Lisa Peters, February 2014

The Mark of the Hand 
Spanierman Modern

This was a welcome show of notably physical work by five distinctive painters and sculptors. Painting that revels in color and in the stuff of its making was represented by Katherine Parker and Frank Bowling. The artists' deep and radiant abstract canvases summoned sea, sun, vegetation, and light. Parker's large red Familia (2008-9) and blue Mica (2008) offer built-up squares of related tones sectioned off within larger wholes. They fairly invite entry into their spaces. Bowling, mingles pouring, staining, gluing, and cutting with pinking shears in vibrant works, such as And Sand Flies Too (2008), that for all their activity are never too busy or beyond his control.

Cynthia Nadelman
ARTnews , June 2009

Days of Winter: Recent Works
Heidi Cho Gallery

Parker mutes and controls her palette to instantiate the void of loss, creating a physical and emotional replica of the impact of hopelessness and solitude. Staying primarily monochromatic, she explores the nuances of grey, ranging from a deep charcoal in AscentThe Day after Thanksgiving (in which two flying crosses resemble an ethereal monument that has flown off its base), through stark silver-white in White Noise. In these paintings, the beauty and sorrow of isolation and intangibility of loss are expressed in the variegated shades of grey and in the scratched and scumbled hieroglyphs in the paintings' surfaces.
Throughout the show, Parker's warmth of touch and surfaces cut through the bleakness of icy winter, albeit informed by current events. Sometimes provocative, Parker questions the emotional cost of war on those left behind. Kept to a minimal lexicon of symbols, the emotive power is in the painted mark, the gesture and the expressive property of the surface rather than graphic content. In Days of Winter, Parker explores the quieter, more difficult states of the human experience. Winter with its sorrow and chill, is inescapable. These paintings create a visual echo of winter's isolation and vacuum.
Rafael DiazCasas
January 2008

Heidi Cho Gallery 

In a world of increasing terror, Katherine Parker's new paintings beckon us with a mirage of physical refuge. While Parker's painterly touch evokes the seductive beauty of landscape, her landscapes also present the shadow of menace—a toxic cloud, a melting sun, an angry storm of brush strokes. Yet there remains optimism—in the lush colors and the sensitively textured surfaces—serving as a beacon of beauty and engagement.
Parker's facility with the history of painting grounds her exploration of the line between abstraction and landscape, revealing inspiration from such pivotal artists as de Kooning, Rothko, Porter, and Matisse. Rather than a post-modern pastiche of these artists, Parker offers homage in the best sense: one painter's contribution to the on-going dialogue between artists. Parker articulates in this series that if the act of painting offers refuge, it must also exist in the lived world, with all the complications and concerns of the present.

Anne Michie
November 2005

Gallery 31 North

As with much art that is inspired by that which is deeply felt and mysterious, abstract forms become the necessary evidence of self, as if there can be no other, further or better proof. In Self Evidence, painter Katherine Parker works intuitively and spontaneously, giving her medium an expressive life of its own with which to convey deeper meaning. Carving, dripping and scraping the paint, Katherine Parker makes marks that quietly ignite the surfaces of her canvases. Large spaces of calm and sometimes turmoil open up the surface for these bold or whispering signs and symbols. Sometimes confrontational, sometimes just commenting they beckon us in, push us out or let us contemplate. In all the paintings there is an embrace of understated urgency. The possibilities in the language of paint are always surprising. In Parker's hands it is a compelling, ongoing dialogue as well.

Kristen Accola
July 2004

States of Union
Queens College Art Center

Katherine Parker gives nuanced expression to internal consciousness in her brilliantly lush oil paintings. Early modernists sought a higher plane through purely visual and material means. Parker's goals and methods are similar, but her sights more realistic. As she methodically overlays paint strata and graphic marks, the planes she achieves are shifting, neither high nor low, and filled with evanescent archetypal symbols and forms along with flotsam and jetsam from mundane affairs.
Although there is no firm commitment to anything but the paint and an aggregate approach, Parker does provide clues for reading her densely textured color fields. The terse titles (Trigger, Solace, Retreat), imagery and palette of her Reparation Series, 2000–2003, suggest reactions to the events of September 11, 2001. As in all of Parker's work, there are other possible readings as well concerning confusion, epiphany, affinity and isolation—a kind of visual pilgrim's progress. Parker's subtly worked and intensely compressed color fields and quirkily serviceable vocabulary both seduce and confound, but the experience of teasing out strands and meanings provides a pleasurable act of communion between viewer and maker.

Ann Holcomb
March 16, 2003