David Parker: The Phenomenal World

The idea of photographing or painting landscapes in metaphorical terms may seem to be passe, but there is no good reason for such misapprehension, the result of the vagaries of critical fashion. The worm shows clear signs of turning, however, and David Parker's pictures, containing the intimate involvement of the artist in the whole drama and ritual of their making, represent an increasingly valid set of values and attitudes. He is making a clear statement about what the art of photography still might achieve in the right hands. His imagery is an intriguing blend of the objective and the subjective, the formal and the allegorical. It is complex, rich in illusion, yet it remains photography. First and foremost, perhaps it is the sheer visual elan, the beauty with which he has transcribed these mysterious views that draws us into contemplation of their more subtle, and indeed sober virtues. We certainly need landscape photography that demonstrates man's inhumanity to nature and his wanton disregard of our planet's fabric. But we also need landscape photography that enchants. We read David Parker's images as a totality, take them in initially as a whole, though we are then invited to roam. The space is a deep space, truly around us, and even over our heads. Spatially they are unlike any photographs we know, and in their strange exhilaration, their feeling of anticipation we are reminded of nothing so much as the view from the first few rows of the opera house, where one can see the stage, the wings, even the arch of the proscenium overhead, a view which never fails to thrill. And these are, before anything else, thrilling pictures. So it is a delight to see, in David Parker's large but not overlarge images, photographs that wear their size easily. They were conceived on a large scale, and the size to which they have been enlarged is correct conceptually, technically, and aesthetically. It is also a delight to view photographs which may be termed theatrical in the best sense in that they are literate, thoughtful, imaginative, and an essential condition of art-'new'.