McClain Gallery is delighted to announce Stray Cats with Kittens, a solo exhibition of Aaron Parazette’s new paintings alongside a range of works from early on in the artist’s career. The show explores Parazette’s long interest in abstraction, and like any artist's stray thoughts, the progeny lives in the same neighborhood, wanders at will, howls in the night, and sometimes produces offspring. Works on panel and plaster from the 1990s draw a continuous conceptual line through the artist's formal approach to painting; several new shaped canvas pieces and the debut of a new series utilizing online image generator technology round out the group. 

The earliest works, a series of small paintings from 1991–92, proposed that the “touch” of the artist’s hand was the critical element in resonant art. Their compositional structures draw from the vocabulary of contemporary abstract painting and common household patterns, with titles like Shower Curtain and Bathroom Floor. Pure Beauty, a series of cast plaster rectangles emblazoned with small logo decals from AmEx to Nike, is intended to suggest and capitalize on the power of corporate sponsorship. The imperfect material and wear emphasize the soft edges of age, like artifacts from an industrial past. This early use of text cues the later word paintings, which consumed much of Parazette’s studio practice in the early 2000s–2010s, and the examples in this show provide a synergistic beginning and end to the exhibition: So Soon?

Several shaped paintings investigate the potency and effect of the non-rectangular painting support. Parazette began this series in 2009, intending to use “visually insistent supports,” which he would then paint with “complementary and equally insistent compositions.” The new paintings utilizing the Target logo (yes, that Target) echo the earlier Pure Beauty series as they combine the purity of carefully tuned reductive abstraction (loosely based on Ellsworth Kelly’s works) with instantly recognizable branding. Black Beauty and its precursor, Huff, are emblematic of Parazette's other long-standing investment in surf culture. The subtle reference to a “magic” surfboard emerges through color blocking, fine lines, as well as inertia suggested by the directional shaped support.

Parazette has also recently started using Midjourney. Having been introduced to the online image generator by a fellow artist, he quickly recognized its potential to provide creative yeast for his studio practice. Parazette prompts the program using simple art and pop culture terms; the resulting images become “starters” for this series of paintings. The works that have emerged from this process have the force one would expect from Parazette joining his attention and craft to the new world of Artificial Intelligence. They are an abstract painter’s statement for our moment in time: digitally infused and physically essential.