David Parrish (b.1939, Birmingham, AL) spent his early decades as an artist chasing, photographing and painting motorcycles, gaining widespread recognition for his intricate Photorealist paintings of their metallic chrome engines and colourful bodywork against solid-coloured, flattened backgrounds. Parrish completed his BFA at the University of Alabama in 1961 and, having spent some time in New York before earning his degree, returned to the capital hoping to secure a position as a magazine illustrator. Instead, he was hired as a concept artist for the aerospace firm Hayes International in Huntsville, AL and spent the rest of the 1960s working as a draughtsman and exhibit designer for Hayes, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and other engineering firms. In 1970, Parrish had his first solo exhibition at the Brooks Memorial Art Gallery in Memphis, TN and in 1971, he became a full-time painter.
Parrish’s motorcycle paintings are readily identifiable by their close-up focus on the distinctive lines and shapes that appealed to him and their glossy and reflective surfaces. Parrish began producing images based on photographs in 1964, initially with a scene of a country store, yet, having grown up around motorcycles (his father had toured the country by motorbike before settling down as a banker), Parrish quickly gravitated towards depicting these machines, as well as automobiles and aircraft. Later, Parrish’s subject matter expanded to include amusement park rides and porcelain models of Pop icons such as Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley.
Paintings by Parrish have been exhibited widely throughout the United States and internationally. His work was the subject of a solo exhibition at the Huntsville Museum of Art, AL, in 1977. This was followed by the solar institutional presentations David Parrish, Birmingham Museum of Art, AL, touring to Huntsville Museum of Art and Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, AL (1981); David Parrish, Greenville County Museum of Art, SC (1987) and David Parrish: Paintings, Georgetown College Gallery, KT. Recent group surveys include Hyperrealismo 1967–2013, Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, Spain (2014–2015); Hyperrealisme: 50 Years of Painting, Kunsthal Rotterdam, The Netherlands (2017) and Imitation Of Life: Contemporary Approaches To Realism, Huntsville Museum of Art, Al (2021–2022).
David Parrish lives and works in Huntsville, AL.