The Paradox of Darío Parvis

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 4.42.55 PMBy Jane Bauer

The art scene in Huatulco exploded this season with the opening of the Rubin Gallery in Santa Cruz, the brainchild of artist Susana Rubin. Since January, the Rubin Gallery has hosted several soirees with art, wine and music, with a portion of sales going to benefit the foundation ‘Pintando Esperanza’ (Painting Hope).

On February 27th, the works of Darío Parvis debuted in Huatulco. Parvis first met Rubin in Buenos Aires where he has been honing his skills in airbrushing and tattoo artistry. While Parvis took basic airbrushing courses, he is primarily self-taught and yet he masters details like a pro. An airbrush passes a stream of fast moving air through a venturi, which creates a local reduction in air pressure that allows paint to be pulled from an interconnected reservoir at normal atmospheric pressure. The high velocity of the air atomizes the paint into very tiny droplets as it blows past a very fine paint-metering component. The paint is carried onto paper or other surfaces. It requires an extremely steady hand and concentration. Parvis’ favored subject matters are hyperrealist faces and gazes of iconic figures, which could easily fall into kitschy; however, it doesn’t. While Parvis says he doesn’t consider himself a creative person, it is clear that his skill extends beyond craft.

There is an irony to his paintings. The whimsical smile of Salvador Dalí in the work titled ‘Dalí’s Gaze’ seems like a joke played on the viewer. After all, what did Dali see; bold color and a surreal view of our world that challenges the every day. Of his work, Parvis says he likes to add the light. Starting with a canvas painted black, he airbrushes in the light until the image becomes recognizable. He captures Mother Theresa’s sad eyes and Miles Davis’ passionate expression with eyes squinted shut. While art without meaning is merely a craft, the element that elevates Parvis’ iconic gazes above low-brow street art is what his subjects say about ourselves. It was Dalí himself who said “Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing.”

“I don’t know what the meaning of my work is, whether to call it ‘art.’ Art is in the eye of the beholder. I enjoy the process of painting; a wrinkle, an expression, the light, there is an energy that flows that becomes the meaning, it is capturing a moment of the soul,” Parvis says. At the same time, he isn’t interested in the mass production of his works, preferring the process of painting each one, even though, to the viewer passing quickly by, they may seem redundant. Modestly, Parvis refers to himself as an ‘ignorant’ in the art world. He doesn’t attach great meaning to each work; he paints what moves him, and he hopes this will translate to the viewer, acknowledging the subjectivity of the interpretation of art.

The very medium of using airbrushing is an irony in itself, lending itself more to the gimmicky than fine art. While today we know it for touching up celebrities’ thighs to make them magazine-cover worthy, it got its start in the late 1800s for retouching photographs. In the 20th-century Soviet Union, as a result of Stalin’s purges, many photographs of officials from the periods show extensive airbrushing; often entire human figures have been removed. The term “airbrushed out” has come to mean rewriting history to pretend that something was never there. Airbrushing was then adopted by the muscle car aficionados to pimp up the hoods of Trans Ams with buxom bikini-clad girls and then found its way to t-shirts, street art and special effects make-up.

“The more I see, the more ignorant I feel…there is so much. There are so many techniques and so many things that if I let it all in, I would go crazy,” says Parvis. When not painting canvas, Parvis does tattooing, although he concedes he doesn’t have a strength for designing them. And while he admits to finding tattoos sexy and enjoys tattooing other people, he has only a couple of small ones himself. When asked what paintings he would hang on his walls at home, he says he would leave them bare.

What’s next? Parvis hopes to start to incorporate color and words into his art. However, he doesn’t want to overthink it. “The other day I stopped in front of the house where I am staying and I thought where should I go? What should I do?…..I just went….I’m just seeing where the road takes me. I don’t have a plan. In Buenos Aires, the same thing happens. I wake up, I just go…maybe I will stop for a coffee, maybe I will spend the afternoon painting. Art for me is the search….the hunt. If someone offered to buy my art for the next year at double the price, I couldn’t do it. I don’t know what is going to come out of me. The process of the hunt drives me. If I knew the meaning of my work, there would be no point for me to continue painting the same subject.”