Et al. etc. presents
Keith J. Varadi and Gertrud Parker
Apr 12 - May 18, 2019
One fine Sunday, Jackie, Kevin, and I went on a trip north across the Golden Gate Bridge to visit Gertrud Parker. She showed us her lovely home, and then we walked to her studio where, with her massive sculptures in the background, she had set up a separate area to make these new encaustic works and watercolors (and other manageably-sized projects). There, hanging on a wall, were the works by Parker we’d be showing—it was the first time any of us had seen any of her pieces in person, and we were not disappointed. We talked about her practice, a little about her life, and enjoyed some little croissant cookies she had warmed up for us. In these newer works, Parker is frequently the subject, facing the viewer (and artist) squarely in context with the world she’s made (of) her home.
These things come about via so many different paths. When we’re asked, “How do you choose which artists to work with?”, the question implies a hard and fast process, when in reality, the whole project is so much softer and looser. In this case, we had been in conversation with Keith J. Varadi—an artist we’ve worked with a few times now—about a next to-do at our galleries, when he suggested the pairing of him and Parker. This immediately made the kind of strange, unpredictable sense that drives our program. Varadi’s work vacillates between a painting practice and a little bit of everything else; though, when we thought of his proposal, we imagined some of the paintings I’d seen in private messages and shared with the others at the gallery, but again, not in the flesh. His work balances the personal and the private, utilizing language and pictures, abstraction and the very real world, sometimes enmeshing the two in a single image.
So then: A little duet, a few new songs, and some old standards thrown in.
These two artists share a commitment to making. They’ve both entertained other ways of working and other materials, which may never be left fully by the wayside, but they keep at the act of putting color, line, and shape on surfaces. Their paintings have become the exact opposite of clumsy. They are concise moments, captured in gummy shapes, in resinous surfaces, poised and honest, but still asking questions of the world—(through) sights and signs and punctuation and selfies. Their paintings aren’t isolated incidents—they have precedents and consequences; they have echos, going forward and backward in time.
Aaron Harbour, March 2019
Gertrud Parker (b. Vienna, Austria, lives and works in Marin County, CA). Select solo exhibitions include “Recent Works in Encaustic” at Parker Gallery, Los Angeles (2018); Gertrud Parker: Watercolors and Prints, Godwin-Ternbach Museum, Queens College, NY (2015); Gertrud Parker, Artist and Collector, Sonoma County Museum, Santa Rosa, CA (2011); Dominican University, San Rafael, CA (2009-10); Gediegen, Haaaauch, Klagenfurt, Austria, Verfremdung, Galerie Haasner, Wiesbaden, Germany (2006); The Visceral Sculpture of Gertrud Parker, Richmond Art Center, Richmond, CA (2002); Drahkt Object, Galerie Haasner, Wiesbaden, Germany, Vernissage & Kolloquium, Bundesinstitut, St. Wolfgang, Austria, Scheinbar Vertraut, Haaaauch, Klagenfurt, Austria (2001); and Gertrud Parker: A Lightness in Being, San Francisco Craft and Folk Art Museum, San Francisco, CA (1993). Her work is included in the permanent collections of the Oakland Museum and the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive.
Keith J. Varadi (b. 1985, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) is a Los Angeles-based artist, poet, writer, curator, and researcher. He received his MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2011 and his BFA from Rutgers University in 2008. Recent solo exhibitions include Chicken Coop Contemporary (Portland, Oregon); Sydney (Sydney, Australia); Galerie Tobias Naehring (Leipzig, Germany); Et al. (San Francisco, California); Cooper Cole (Toronto, Canada); and Night Gallery (Los Angeles, California). He is a regular contributor to Contemporary Art Review Los Angeles, Flash Art International, and Spike Art Quarterly. He has curated exhibitions, read poetry and prose, performed, and lectured widely at various international venues. Additionally, he is a researcher for the long-running television game show, Jeopardy!.