Jon Parlangeli is an artist striving to "reinvent expressionism" with his heavily abstract and non-traditional works. Finding creative freedom in Detroit, the aesthetics of his work rely more heavily on process than it does the final product. Utilizing acrylics, as well as various other paints and pigmentations, Parlangeli challenges the viewer to study and reflect on the meanings and implications behind his final product.
What’s your preferred medium to express yourself and you work? How did you come into working that way?
My preferred medium is acrylic. That passion came into being 3-4 years ago as my experimentations in oil would not take me as far as I needed to go for a fully developed surface aesthetic.
Where did you grow up and do you think that’s affected, at all, your vision as an artist?
I grew up both in and around Detroit. My lifetime exposure to the city sticks with me and has transferred a semblance of urbanity and deconstructed aesthetic to my palette. Detroit was, and still is, in so many ways a deconstructed city. There is beauty in the yin/yang of life in the city be it in revitalization or in reclamation by nature throughout the city.
What was your dream growing up as a child?
As far as my dreams growing up, they somehow seem unclear. Mostly I think I wanted to explore the world and its history. What I can say is that I have been an aesthetic since I can remember, always touched by creativity, beauty, and adventure.
What has become most important to you or your work at this moment in your life?
What is most important to my work at this point is to continue to both expore the limitations of my medium and continue to innovate.
Is there any specific moment(s) or memory in your life that pushed you definitively towards the arts or to pursue your creative ambitions?
I think that my original push towards the arts is more unconscious or somehow cerebral. My old neighbor, Mr. Applebaum, used to paint in his back yard. I would wander down there as a child to see his landscapes (It was the 70s, you could wander for days before your parents would ask or wonder where you were). The old man would literally fuck with me daily asking if I could find the squirrel in his landscapes. It was like a daily where’s Waldo. He always said it was just behind the painted trees, and if I looked hard enough I would be able to see them. I studied a ton of paintings, and never found any damn squirrels. I think, somehow, I’m still looking for it in my own work now.
Who or what would you say is your biggest inspiration(s) and how do you think they/it have influenced your work?
As an artist inspirations change over the years as we grow. However, specifically standing the test of time and still influencing my work today is Willem de Kooning. His palette, aggressiveness of stroke and composition and specifically deconstruction of the female figure pushes me further in my own explorations. Also, the works of sculptor John Chamberlain haunt my dreams and occupy my mind constantly. His sense of material, composition and color resonate deep within me. I find myself wanted to touch them and feel their movement. Because of de Kooning and Chamberlain (and a little of Schnabel’s plate paintings) surface has become my primary sense.
What does your work mean to you? If anything at all?
My work is me. I have to make it, no choice...It is the answer to all questions I have, the eternal itch, the drug of choice and beloved addiction, and satisfies a longing that builds in intensity year after year. It is also a legacy and represents my own place in history I suppose.
What is your definition of ‘art’, even if it’s total bullshit?
Defining art is like asking a politician to tell the truth...it just can’t be comprehended. Let’s face it, a lot of work out there is total bullshit, made purely for money, or fame, and based on some cheeky trend that is somehow embraced by the collecting community...all because of some other ridiculous shit. Other artists really do try hard but just plain suck. HOWEVER, I don’t begrudge them because of the way I feel about why I make my own work. If they are happy than I’ll just not look at the shitty work and respect their bravery and need to produce it (we all have fans and haters). There are also many artists out there with such ingenuity, creativity, and absolute talent that it’s hard to quantify in any terms. Basically, art is just a mish-mash of crazy, and trying to nail it down will make you old, because the world never stops long enough to grasp it all. What I can say is that it is something that makes us more human (good or bad), more grounded, defined and helps us to understand questions we don’t yet know to ask.