Michael Parkes (1944 – ) is an American-born magic realism artist
specializing in fantasy painting, stone lithography and sculpture. Parkes'
work is widely available in the form of popular poster prints in many
print shops, and nine books of his artwork have been published.
Though he studied graphic art and painting at the University of Kansas,
his unique style evolved in isolation, after a period in which he gave up
the practice of art altogether and went to India in search of
philosophical illumination. Born in 1944, he is considered one of hippie
Early on, he painted in the generally
abstract expressionist style common among his teachers, but after his
pause for reflection he began to draw and paint in a meticulous style of
detailed representation which enabled him to give full expression to his
inner world of images.
The style was in principle realistic, the
subject matter magical, and magic realism has characterised his work ever
He studied the esoteric doctrines of the
East and the West, and his imagery is drawn from a range of wisdoms
including the cabalistic and the tantric, but embodied in forms from his
own imagination which are immediately accessible. Here strange beasts
encounter mysterious winged women, good and evil fight out their
immemorial conflict (though who can be perfectly sure which is which?),
and in this weightless environment worlds are unmade and remade nearer to
the heart's desire.
Even as a student Parkes was fascinated
by various graphic processes, and in recent years he has become highly
proficient in the difficult medium of the colour stone lithograph.