Steven Parrino, Untitled, 1991, sprayed enamel, pencil on vellum, 9 × 12 inches (22.9 × 30.5 cm)
Steven Parrino is best known for his signature “misshaped” monochromes with slashed, torn, or twisted canvases. An established pioneer in performance and video art, his radicalism was borne out of a deep understanding of the history of painting and the avant-garde. The “vibe” of his work derives from his other loves: Pop iconography and the subversive counterculture of the Hell’s Angels, the occult, and the No Wave and punk rock movements. His commitment to the belief that “radicalism comes from content and not necessarily form” radiates throughout his artistic practice, where he utilizes all the disciplines of painting, photo collage, drawing, film, video, and super-sonic performance. At the end of the 1980s, Parrino’s work began to diverge aesthetically. Never completely comfortable with the “Neo-Geo” label, his work took on a darker, more monumental character. The iconic monochrome paintings took shape as radical, nihilistic, pop sculptural objects—a transformation which fused historical tradition with the defunct notion of the avant-garde.
Steven Parrino was born in 1958 in New York, and died in 2005 in New York. He received his A.A.S. in 1979 from SUNY Farmingdale, New York, and his B.F.A. in 1982 from Parson’s School of Design, New York. Parrino’s work has been exhibited in major exhibitions worldwide, including Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, Switzerland (2000); Ludwig Museum, Köln (2000); Contemporanea, Milan (2001); Nuremberg Museum, Germany (2002); The Swiss Institute, New York (2002); Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2003); Le Consortium, France (2004); Museum of Modern Art, Frankfurt (2005); P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York (2005); and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco (2006). Recent solo exhibitions include Massimo DeCarlo Arte Contemporanea, Milan (2000); “Exit/Dark Matter,” FriArt, Switzerland (2002); “Steven Parrino Videos 1979–Present,” Circuit, Lausanne, Switzerland (2002); Massimo DeCarlo Arte Contemporanea, Milano Galerie Jean Brolly, Paris (2003); “A Retrospective (curated by Fabrice Stroun),” Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain, Geneva (2005–07); Palais De Tokyo, France (2007); “Born to Be Wild: Hommage an Steven Parrino,” Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, Switzerland (2009); and “Dancing on Graves,” The Power Station, Dallas (2017).