Recalling both Bay Area Figuration as well as abstract expressionism in the manner of Hans Hoffman and the color field painters, Parasnis interpolates architectonic landscapes through the visual language of abstraction. Houses, huts, barns, boats, and fences are built up using vibrant, geometrical planes of color that interlock and overlap to such a degree that practically vibrate with energy. Despite the prevalence of hard lines and unbroken forms, there are also areas of transparency and “erosion” that reveal glimpses of the vibrant underpainting below. In addition to demonstrating the many possibilities of paint, the works’ unique surface dimensionality and abraded texture also illustrate the complexities of three-dimensional space and allude to the passing of time.
In many of Parasnis’s paintings, the structuring of space does not adhere to the traditional rules of perspective. The resulting idiosyncrasies, the artist explains, are influenced by Indian miniature painting, a style distinguished by an absence of post-Renaissance European perspective. In this mostly decorative genre—which reached its height between the 16th and 19th centuries during the reign of the Mughal empire—an artist depicted depth by stacking people and objects on top of each other. Objects farther away from the picture plane are often depicted as larger than those that are ostensibly closer while the employment of multiple points of view emphasizes the multivalency of reality. White Street (2011)—a painting in which houses of commensurate size sit on top of each other, thereby negating the existence of a single-vanishing point—vigorously exemplifies this influence. Here, the houses sway preternaturally to the left, have roofs that are proportionally too large, and feel more like paper cutouts given their lack of depth-bestowing sides. The initial effect of this and other paintings often results in expectation-defying dislocation. In response to this, Parasnis reasons that: “If everything makes sense, then it’s too orderly.” The paintings’ inventive and often quizzical aspects aside, closer consideration reveals how the balanced relationships between individual colors and forms have been meticulously thought out and executed. His paintings unequivocally achieve a sophisticated harmony through unorthodox means.
Because painting allows the artist to author a completely new reality, Parasnis is free to create and capture his thoughts and observations without compromise. Though his scenes are often evocative of previously encountered places and landscapes, Parasnis contends that his imagination is his most important tool as a painter. The title of this show, Wanderlust,
describes how his paintings often transport him to places—both real and imagined—he’s never visited. The term is also illustrative of how he lets his mind wander during the painting process, allowing uninhibited shifts between memories, dreams, and emotional states. Because his paintings are less mediated by his psyche and worldview than they are descriptive of them, they also offer a glimpse of his inner self. For instance, the unmitigated tranquility of his scenes, which are full of manmade dwellings but not people, is endemic to Parasnis’ work and way of life. As a child, the artist lived in a remote, rural area outside the city of Pune, India. And while he now lives in bustling San Francisco, his condominium is removed from the clamor of the street: a halcyon shelter in an urban landscape. It is this sense of calm and quiet that Parasnis tries to evoke, without conceit or artifice, in his paintings.
Parasnis grew up in Pune, India and earned his BFA from the Directorate of Art, Bombay, India. In 2001, Parasnis moved to San Francisco to pursue graduate study at the Academy of Art University, graduating with an MFA in 2005. In addition to receiving numerous fellowships and awards, his work has been included in exhibitions at the Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA; Coos Art Museum, Coos Bay, OR; and the Art Museum of Los Gatos, Los Gatos California. From March 22 – May 25, Parasnis’s work will be on display in the group exhibition, “Legacy in Continuum: Bay Area Figurations” at the Bakersfield Museum of Art in Bakersfield, CA.