Vicken Parsons

Foreword by Andrew Nairne
Introduction by Charlotte Mullins
Texts by Michael Archer, Iwona Blazwick, Darian Leader, Richard Morphet, Anna Moszynska, Annushka Shani, Rachel Spence, Edmund de Waal
Conversation with David Batchelor

Vicken Parsons makes small, intimate paintings on wood panel using thin layers of oil paint. Her subjects are usually partial views of interior spaces or landscapes, some remembered and others imagined. Details of rooms such as corners or doorways or glimpses of fleeting clouds conjure up worlds that are contained yet expansive. Her paintings are quiet and meditative in mood, but also richly evocative, drawing in the viewer through their expressive brushwork, instinctive interplay of colour and light, and unnerving tension between surface and depth. 

Parsons’ work has beguiled and inspired writers from the fields of art, literature, and psychoanalysis for several decades. Their responses to her ‘visual poems’ are gathered here for the first time in this collection of writings on her practice. Dozens of her most celebrated paintings are reproduced, alongside some of her drawings, until now never shown, and her ‘painted objects’, in which she extends her pictorial investigation of space, reflection, and illusion into three-dimensional form. This beautiful book is a demonstration of painting’s power to evoke emotion and sensation even when on the smallest of scales. 

Vicken Parsons (b. 1957) studied at Slade School of Fine Art in London in the late 1970s. She has work in many private and public collections in Britain, including Tate, Arts Council England, the Government Art Collection, and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, and across and Europe. She is represented by Cristea Roberts Gallery, London; Galerie Christine König, Vienna; and Kristof De Clercq Gallery, Ghent. She lives and works in London. 

Michael Archer is a critic and writer. He is a former professor of art at Goldsmiths, London, where he was Programme Leader for BA Fine Art.
David Batchelor is an artist and writer.
Iwona Blazwick is an art critic, curator, and lecturer. She is the former Director of Whitechapel Gallery, London.
Darian Leader is a practising psychoanalyst and art critic and writer.
Richard Morphet is an art historian and the former Keeper of the Modern Collections at the Tate Gallery, London.
Anna Moszynska is an art historian, lecturer, author, and curator. She co-founded and is senior consultant for the MA in Contemporary Art at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London.
Charlotte Mullins is art critic, writer and broadcaster. She is former arts editor of the Independent on Sunday and the former editor of Art Review, the V&A Magazine and Art Quarterly and has written more than ten books on art and artists.
Andrew Nairne is Director of Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, UK.
Annushka Shani is a curator, writer, and practising psychoanalyst.
Rachel Spence is a poet and art writer.
Edmund de Waal is an artist and writer.