Artist Erik Parker, in front of his painting 'It's Time', which is the introduction to the exhibition. / ÑITO SALAS

Erik Parker's pop jungle tinges the CAC with fluorescent humour

The American artist is displaying 40 of his colourful works from the last two decades, highlighting the way that his formats have evolved from square paintings to pyramids


The first image speaks to us. The face of a man splashed with more tones than a rainbow opens his mouth to show us a fluorescent island on his palate and tell us that 'It's Time', while pointing a finger at his temple as if to tell us it's time we thought about things. Or maybe he simply means that we are crazy. Whichever it is, or maybe it's both, this work is a perfect metaphor for Erik Parker's new exhibition Easy Freedom at the CAC Malaga. It offers us the easy freedom to enter, via his infinite palette, the pop jungle of this American artist of German origin, who takes the tradition of underground and urban culture of his adopted country and accelerates it with multicoloured sensations.

It is an exhibition of the past 20 years of his career, full of irony and humour, criticism and messages.

"This is the biggest exhibition I have ever done, and it includes landscapes, figurative works, totems and pyramids; it is the first time they have all been on show together," the artist said at the inauguration.

His works contain recognisable references to politics, society, economic power, popular culture, music, sport, the history of art and, of course, war, including the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

"While artists like Warhol displayed their messages clearly and directly, Erik Parker hides his ideas in the labyrinth of his pictures," explained Fernando Francés, who has curated the exhibition. Amid the colourful and apparently amusing works, the painter transmits "worry, doubt and hope, in that order," he said.

The artist was keen to point out that he uses so much colour to attract the spectator, not to give him a message but to "show him what is happening; I try to make a record of what is happening without giving an opinion, as there are visual references to war, but there always is some war," he said.

This visual interplay between the fluorescent polychrome and the small hidden icons is especially evident in his most recent works, for example the pyramid shape in pieces such as Feelin' Lucky, in which he categorises what makes him happy from the base to the top.

These are very autobiographical pieces, and one which particularly stands out is called World Class, in which we can see Parker's taste in music, with heavy metal being more senior in the hierarchy to the Rolling Stones, and we discover that he is a huge football fan, with Sergio Ramos near the top of the pyramid. Although if there is one sport he really loves it is basketball, because the very top of this hierarchy is taken by the winged god of the basketball court, Michael Jordan.

"I love basketball; did you see Stephen Curry in the recent NBA final?" the painter asked those attending the presentation, in case anyone had been in any doubt that sport is his other way of loving colours.