installation views

Selma Parlour's meticulous oil paintings appear as though they're drawn, dyed, or printed. Parlour's self-styled coda to historic abstraction and minimalism reassesses in/extrinsic conventions from a contemporary perspective. The artist is known for her units of luminous colour, her technique where oil is applied in soft films and may be worked to resemble pencil, her shaded bands, diagrammatic space, and haptic surfaces, and her abstract-paintings-of-photography's-installation-shot-of-abstract-painting.


In delicate, precise paintings referencing iconic architectural geometries, Parlour's canvases are cosmic windows that compress time to merge the forms of present and past. – Cathryn Drake, Artforum, 2015

Parlour's paintings carry colour without volume. Maintaining a relation to printmaking, the build-up is tonal, stained, almost as if in a photograph, with the sense of hands off as well as hands on. A layered levelling of colour, where the artist appears to have pulled the canvas, as if a shroud, out of liquid in a gesture of reversed negativity. [...] Parlour has, through her fascination with installation and context, moved between asking the work to inhabit real space – in order to continue the metaphor, style, emphasis, and manner of a particular context – and expecting the work to provide its own place, architecture and context. The role of this fluidity in Parlour's work extends further than Rothko, for instance, aware of the fact that his paintings would be the main feature of an expensive restaurant, or Léger, who had planned a chapel all along. It is not what the paintings lend a place that Parlour is concerned about, but what they project onto it or draw back towards themselves. – Sacha Craddock, Curator & Chair of New Contemporaries (excerpt taken from monograph essay published 2018)


A series of extremely subtle colours have been applied with the exactitude of an illuminator decorating a manuscript. The results are as pleasing as a perfect equation and the acronym QED (quod erat demonstrandum), usually appended to the proof of a theorem, would not be inappropriate. – Sarah Kent, The Arts Desk, 2011

Parlour's previous use of what could be images of full frames is now merely implied by what look like photographic crops of them. The paradoxical idea comes to mind that these paintings are details of themselves. There is plenty here for eye and brain. – Paul Carey-Kent, Saturation Point, 2018

The spaces Parlour creates in her compositions initially appear ripe for rmental projection, but actually serve to thwart our ocular need to move through the plane, or locate ourselves within the image by way of secure structural elements. Rather, they deliver a sense of contrary delight, at being prettily slippery and defiantly two-dimensional in an increasingly screen-based world. – Rebecca Geldard, Apple and Hat, 2019

Parlour's pictorial space is impossible. It breaks all the rules and confounds all expectations, demanding to be read from multiple perspectives rather than a single viewpoint. – Richard Davey, John Moores Painting Prize catalogue, 2016

ES magazine, 2019


The Times, 2016


She layers her paint with great patience and skill to achieve a luminous ground, with as much light trickery as a Van Eyck or a Rothko. – Mark Sheerin, FAD magazine, 2020

I am puzzled by the sense of this being a corner or a quadrant. In what context might one see only this part of either a pyramid or a window? Photography comes to mind, the camera frame characteristically cropping objects in this way. And there is something about the colour quality, thinly applied hues, with the white surface behind giving them brilliance, which is reminiscent of a photograph or a computer screen. – Andy Parkinson, Patterns that Connect, 2017

Our edgy attempt to impose perceptual equanimity is hereby challenged. – Sandra Gibson, Nerve magazine, 2016

The result is an illusory, tromp l'oeil-like effect that works against the eye's instinctual efforts in finding points of focus. All paintings need to be seen in person to be properly appreciated, of course, but that's especially the case with Parlour's work, which purposely subverts the optics of a camera lens. – Taylor DaFoe, Artnet News, 2018



Please send enquires to: Images available from: Artimage
London/Istanbul Athens
Pi Artworks Dio Horia
55 Eastcastle Street
London, W1W 8EG  
+44 207 6378403

studio, 2017

studio, 2014

Selma Parlour (b. Johannesburg, S.A. 1976). Awards: Arts Council England Creative Development Award (2020); Mark Rothko Memorial Trust Artist-in-Residence Award (2018); 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 (Invited, 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: Activities for the Abyss, Pi Artworks, London (2019, solo); 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.


© Selma Parlour 2020