Purple Magazine
— S/S 2012 issue 17

Exit / Dark Matter



The artist Steven Parrino, born in 1958, was a biker and a guitar player. He died in a motorcycle accident leaving a New Year’s Eve party in Williamsburg in 2005. During his career, he sold only a few paintings. He spent many years recycling paintings: tearing them up, taking them apart, crushing them by hand into sculpted matter — hinting at the crushed cars of John Chamberlain. When he died, very little of his work was available, and the price of it skyrocketed. He went from also-ran to collector’s item.

This series, Exit / Dark Matter, which Parrino made in the 1990s, comprises 41 ink, graphite, and spray-paint drawings and paintings on vellum, using images he appropriated (to use that quintessentially ’80s word) from comic books, artists like Goya and Robert Smithson, bikers, rock musicians, the killer Charles Manson, and various faces and events, all of which depict action and riot.

One of Parrino’s methods was to treat a canvas the way Jimi Hendrix treated a Fender Stratocaster — smashing and twisting it up. The cathartic title of the series, Exit / Dark Matter, itself echoes a splintered guitar. Parrino’s art seems to be powered by the self-abandon of a biker on speed or a left-handed rocker on coke — with all the power and inward dazzle, the energized and enraged glee mastered by a virtuoso like Hendrix and the maniacs of punk and grunge.

Today, Parrino is enshrined in the pantheon of contemporary art, waiting for the future’s ultimate benediction. Exit/Dark Matter was created by the artist between 1998 and 1999, the work was published as a comic book in 2002 by the Swiss publishers JRP Editions. It was brought to the United States for the first time last spring for inclusion in Marc Jancou Contemporary’s exhibition, “Steven Parrino, Raymond Pettibon, Scott Campbell: Blankness is Not a Void.”

Collection of Image Division Ltd and courtesy of The Steven Parrino Estate and Gagosian Gallery Special thanks to Juliana Balestin

[Table of contents]

S/S 2012 issue 17

Table of contents

purple EDITO

purple NEWS

purple BEST of the SEASON





purple BEAUTY

purple TRAVEL

purple NAKED

purple NIGHT

purple SUMMER


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