• Parra_panorama-4

    Image courtesy of Parra and SFMOMA

  • Parra_panorama-1

    Image courtesy of Parra and SFMOMA

  • Parra_panorama-2

    Image courtesy of Parra and SFMOMA

  • Parra_panorama-3

    Image courtesy of Parra and SFMOMA

  • Parra_panorama-5

    Image courtesy of Parra and SFMOMA

Art

What's On: Parra, Weirded Out

Posted by Bryony Quinn,

Today sees the opening of Weirded Out at San Francisco’s MoMA. Painted by the eccentric stylings of Dutch artist Parra, this is one of his most ambitious murals to date: The anthropomorphic, boneless characters and free-form lettering that distinguish him as the cult, post-Pop designer we all know and love has been hand-painted onto a staggering 60 foot wall. We caught up with the artist and learnt all about this Kate Bush inspired work…

How did this show come about?

I was approached by Joseph Becker who is a curator at the San Francisco MoMa for architecture and design, he wanted to have a poster of mine in the collection and when that was done we kept in touch. He later visited an exhibition I did in 2010 in LA at the Arkitip project space – that show had only black and white poster work. We started talking about a commission for the museum and after a while they offered me a 60 feet wall on the second floor in the museum. It’s the first thing you see coming up the stairs, pretty nice spot.

We read that it’s your first show in a US Museum – how does that feel? Do you think your younger self would ever have believed it?

Yes it is! And no, I didn’t really see that one coming. It feels really good and at the same time kind of surreal to have a piece up a few meters away from a Lichtenstein painting.

How would you describe what you do to the west coast gallery-going public?

A hybrid between poster design, type design and figurative art? Post-Pop art?

What are the challenges involved in exhibiting your work in this way?

The biggest challenge was the size and shape of the canvas/wall, I usually prefer working in “poster” format; portrait shape so to speak. This was an extreme landscape format which I had to approach differently, there is way more going on in this piece than normally would be in a poster or painting/drawing.

What do want people to come away with after seeing the show?

That they saw something new which they’ve never seen in a museum before and that it made them happy and, at the same time, a bit confused.

Tell us about the mural you are installing…

It’s a huge 60 feet wide white wall with a variety of weirdly shaped characters revolving around the sentence: “She was alone most of the time, she got weirded out easily.” The text is inspired by Kate Bush. For some reason I listened to her entire oeuvre when making this piece back in Amsterdam, including her latest album. I started reading about her and created that line of text. It’s also a bit about me, about keeping the world at a distance and closing the curtains for three days straight.

What’s your attitude to being reviewed by art critics?

I’m curious what they will say but I think I might be more concerned what the actual visitors of the museum think of the piece. My first critic was a six-year-old American kid who said “ewe gross! Why do they show the boobies?” I hear people talking behind my back all day long literally, because the install/painting takes place when the museum is open, so it kind of feels like a sort of weird performance, haha!

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Posted by Bryony Quinn

Bryony was It’s Nice That’s first ever intern and worked her way up to assistant online editor before moving on to pursue other interests in the summer of 2012.

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