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notes on practice

Selma Parlour is 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: automated developments beyond the studio

Selma Parlour has invented 2 conceptually innovative procedures born from her interaction with distinct mechanical processes: 1 slick yet plotted and nuanced, and 1 clunky yet flexuous and ethereal. The first involves laser engraving into the white primer of her linen surfaces, thereby removing incremental degrees of primer to arrive at the raw linen within/beneath. This act effectually makes a pictorial component of the material ground. The second is text-based by way of an aging industrial coding machine (whose standard task is to add inkjet batch numbers to products as they pass a sensor on a conveyor belt), which she first repurposed to make artworks with in the late 1990s. Once freed form its conveyor the formerly static machine is adapted to be subject to the artist’s hand and movement. Her Risograph printer-duplicator limited edition prints are an extenuation of the artist’s empirical research with low-tech means.



Above: Miniturised Minimalism (fixed four I)

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 (bottom right)

Left: Four Ways from Sunday

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


Right: Illumination Execution Wikipedia

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


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

Left: Proverbial Space with Non-lexical Fillers (after Utagawa Kuniyoshi) II

2019, oil and ink from an industrial coding machine on linen, 51 x 61 cm


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 2020