Installation views



Selma Parlour (b. Johannesburg, S.A. 1976). Awards include a ‘Mark Rothko Memorial Trust Artist-in-Residence Award’ (2018), the ‘Sunny Dupree Family Award for a Woman Artist’, the Summer Exhibition, the Royal Academy of Arts, London (2017), and the John Moores Painting Prize (2016, prizewinner). Other notable awards are her artist residency at Dio Horia, Athens and Island of Mykonos, Greece (2015), and a runner-up award from the Arts Foundation, UK (2014). During her doctoral studies at Goldsmiths, University of London, Selma Parlour received a research support award (2012), and went on to complete her PhD in Art in 2014. That same year her work was selected for Thames and Hudson’s international competition and publication ‘100 Painters of Tomorrow’. Exhibitions include: ‘Upright Animal’, curated by Sacha Craddock, Pi Artworks, London (2018, solo); ‘Parlour Games’, Marcelle Joseph Projects, the House of St Barnabas, London (2016, site-specific, solo); MOT International, London (2012, solo); ‘Selma Parlour & Yelena Popova, Horton Gallery, New York (2012); and Bloomberg New Contemporaries, ICA, London (2011). Collections include the Saatchi Gallery, London.


Notes on Practice

Selma Parlour is a prolific artist known for her oil paintings that look as though they are drawn, dyed, or printed. The artist conceives of her practice through a syntactical lens, contriving a self-styled coda to historic abstract painting in order to reassess its assorted theoretical proclamations and in/extrinsic conventions. Central to her invented vocabulary are: soft films of luminescent colour, delicately-rendered pencil-like oil-made lines and refined matt surfaces, a diagrammatic approach that stresses painting’s two-dimensionality, units of colour inlaid as though through a process of marquetry, an emphasis on multistable perception, mise en abyme, and the material apparatus of painting, as well as architectural spatial explorations.


Cloud III

2017, oil on linen, 86.5 x 61 cm, transparent colour is 'backlit' by the white primed surface beneath. This backlit quality is reminisent of the screen, photograph, or stained glass. Detail view showing oil colour applied to resemble coloured pencil.

For Domestic Devotion

2013, oil on linen, 76 x 61 cm, angled detail view showing trompe l'oeil illusion and the use of the woven texture of the linen ground as a pictorial component.



New for 2019

Automated Developments (beyond the studio)

Selma Parlour's characteristic delicately-shaded evenly-spaced bands of colour that surround rectangles and trapeziums are now replicated by a laser engraving machine put in to service (by way of a digital file) to remove miniscule incremental degrees of white primed surface, thus creating subtle tonal variations of primer (by adjusting the speed of the laser) and ultimately revealing the actual raw linen surface within/beneath. The plotted gradations mimic the precise quality and schematic approach of her painted bands and evoke thoughts on: drawing, erasure, materiality/surface/touch, and authorship.



Above: Miniturised Minimalism (fixed four IV)

2019, oil on linen with laser engraved primed surface, 36.5 x 30 cm, detail showing a section of a gradated laser engraved rectangle, an engraved square, and an oil painted square


Left: Four Ways from Sunday

2019, oil on linen with laser engraved primed surface, 41 x 51 cm (variable orientation), detail


In the playful Miniaturised Minimalism series, identical mock salon hangs of laser-made 'paintings' (floating rectangles) provide a fixed starting point across each canvas ready for multifarious compositions of fictitious gallery displays. With space curtailed to surface, this duplicated diagram stays time whilst sequential ordering and oil painted inflections recall the roster aspect of exhibition installations. The uniform collection of pre-set 'paintings' includes a grid. This Lilliputian grid proves a fitting system detailing the calibrated progression of machined erasure from intact primer to exposed linen.


Illumination Execution Wikipedia

2019, ink from an industrial coding machine on polyester, 51 x 51 cm (1 of 3 individual prints), detail

Factory as temporary studio, repurposed industrial coding machine, work in progress, 2018


New works also feature the use of an industrial coding machine (whose standard task is to add inkjet batch numbers to products as they pass a sensor on a conveyor belt), which Selma Parlour first repurposed to make artworks with in the late 1990s. At odds with the artist's cultivated oil painting practice that is notable for its conspicuous eschewing of any gestural mark-making, the text-based artworks are muddled and untidy. This is a consequence of the formerly static machine being freed from its conveyor and adapted to be subject to the artist's hand and movement. Nevertheless with the only spontaneous and flexuous mark in her oeuvre delivered via a factory-bound machine, the unique is presented as part of a system (albeit one openly inconsistent and subject to chance). In Illumination Execution Wikipedia (2019) the artist repetitiously retraces 12 steps listed online explaining the labour-intensive creation of each page of illustrations in illuminated manuscripts.


Untitled I

2019, Risograph, 43 x 28 cm (edition of 14)


Untitled II

2019, Risograph, 43 x 28 cm (edition of 15)


Untitled III

2019, Risograph, 43 x 28 cm (edition of 20)


Untitled IV

2019, Risograph, 43 x 28 cm (edition of 5)


Selma Parlour's Risograph (a printer-duplicator introduced in the 1980s and often described as silkscreen printing with a photocopier) limited edition prints record her time spent with a machine that requires each colour to be loaded and printed separately. The machine's limits, such as the colours available and the ink petering at the edges, and the sense of touch (echoed from her original photocopied stencil), are just some of the challenges and aspects that draw the artist to this method of serial image production.



Studio view, 2017



Studio view, 2014




© Selma Parlour 2019