Michael Parkes (1944) – is an American-born artist residing in Spain, known for his work in the realms of fantasy art and magic realism. Michael Parkes is often regarded as the Father of Magical Realism, and he remains the leading magical realist and can be seen as “The ‘New Old Master’, of our time. He is a highly skilled master with undeniable individuality and unrivaled techniques, who has dedicated his life to art. Michael Parkes’s name belongs alongside our Old Masters. There are not many artists who master multiple disciplines such as painting, sculpture and lithographs at such a high level and that makes his work exceptional in addition to the very unique representations.
His artistic journey began with studies in graphic art and painting at the University of Kansas, where he explored various graphic processes. He later became skilled in the intricate medium of color stone lithography. Parkes’ distinctive style evolved in solitude, following a period in which he temporarily abandoned art and embarked on a quest for philosophical enlightenment in India. Upon his return, he transitioned from abstract expressionism, a style common among his early teachers, to a meticulous form of detailed representation that allowed him to express his inner world of imagery.
His mature style is rooted in realism but often delves into magical subject matter, embodying the essence of magic realism. Parkes’ inspiration draws from a range of traditions, including cabalistic and tantric influences, blended with his own imaginative forms. In his art, one can encounter enigmatic creatures, mystical winged women, and the timeless struggle between good and evil. His weightless environments serve as canvases where worlds are both unmade and remade according to the desires of the heart.
Parkes’ proficiency in graphic processes, particularly color stone lithography, led to the creation of many of his recent works as Aurographics, limited edition giclée prints and the new Majestic Collection.
Parkes’ art has graced the covers of several publications, including Omni Magazine and various anthologies of science fiction and fantasy literature. One of his sculptures, “Angel Affair” (2004), even appeared on the cover of the Dutch-language Fine Arts Magazine.
Furthermore, in 2007, choreographer Lisa Starry of Scorpius Dance Theater in Phoenix, Arizona, created a contemporary dance presentation inspired by Parkes’ works. Additionally, Parkes’ paintings have been used as cover illustrations for various publications.
Michael Parkes’ artistic influence extends beyond the realm of visual art. In 2009, his painting titled “The Three Graces” gained significant recognition as it was prominently featured in Dan Brown’s novel, “The Lost Symbol.” The novel repeatedly references this particular work of art, emphasizing its importance to the story’s narrative. Michael Parkes’ interpretation of the symbolic use of his art in Dan Brown’s book was sought after, and he was interviewed by Daniel Burstein to provide insights into the deeper meaning and significance of his painting within the context of the novel.
Additionally, Michael Parkes’ creative influence has extended to the world of fashion and film. The renowned milliner Justin Smith acknowledged that his design for the distinctive horned headpiece worn by actress Angelina Jolie in the 2014 film “Maleficent” drew inspiration, at least in part, from the lithographs created by Michael Parkes. This demonstrates the far-reaching impact of Parkes’ art, which transcends traditional artistic mediums and finds resonance in literature, fashion, and cinema.
Marcel Salome about Michael Parkes
My collaboration with Michael Parkes dates back over 30 years when I had the privilege of photographing and lithographing his works as a reproduction photographer and color lithographer. Throughout this long-standing partnership, a deep friendship and mutual respect for each other’s craft blossomed. Michael Parkes holds a special place in my heart as an artist because his art and life lessons have had a profound impact on my personal journey, ultimately inspiring me to establish my fine art print company, Re-Art, in 2003. However, it took several more years before I could finally begin producing his limited editions, as the traditional stone printing industry faded away, becoming a casualty of modern times.
Fast forward to today, and we have released numerous editions, including the recent Majestic collection. With modern technology at our disposal, we can now reproduce these artworks on a grand scale without compromising quality. In this case, I can confidently say that when it comes to Parkes, you are dealing directly with the source.