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Issue 226

Daisy Parris Paints From the Gut

An impassioned show of new works at Sim Smith, London, affirms the artist’s longstanding engagement with queer sisterhood, solidarity and survival

BY Kat Hudson in Exhibition Reviews , UK Reviews | 24 JAN 22

Daisy Parris’s paintings come from the gut. The movement, composition and colour of the eight works on display in ‘I See You in Everyone I Love’ – the artist’s second solo show at Sim Smith, London – feels fresh yet familiar. Swathes of fleshy pink meet impassioned tangles of deep blood red in a rich field of painterly downpours and elevations. 

Parris’s largest canvas to date, A Storm the Night You Went (2021), swallows you whole as you enter the main exhibition space. To stand before it is to confront a vast map of human feeling. The work ebbs and flows with emotionally charged mark-making, and there is a visceral honesty and vulnerability about this painting that speaks to the universal condition. Parris has referred to their sisters many times in their work – here, indirectly in No More Pain for You (2022) and The Light (2021) – underscoring their connection to womanhood more broadly, to queerness as a non-binary person, solidarity and survival.

Daisy Parris
Daisy Parris, Poem For Death #1, 2021, oil on canvas, 50 × 40 cm. Courtesy: the artist and Sim Smith, London

In an interview with Sim Smith in November 2021, Parris spoke of the profound energy that flows through their work and its connection to something beyond conscious verbal forms of interaction. This affinity to sisterhood and to psychological space echoes the spiritualism of De Fem (The Five), a group of women artists – co-founded in 1896 by Anna Cassel and Hilma af Klint – who produced drawings by communicating with a dimension beyond material reality. Both Parris’s and De Fem’s bodies of work contain striking similarities with their visceral movement, emotive brushstrokes and star-like motifs. 

However, unlike Af Klint, who refined and dissected the initial sketches she produced with De Fem to create her larger paintings, Parris’s works appear more immediate and unprocessed. A deep exploration of colour theory and the possibilities of paint has equipped Parris with a visual fluency that allows them to create large abstract canvases that are not excessively reduced. In their titles, the artist often utilizes the second person – A Storm Inside You (2021) or No More Pain for You (2022) – to convey a more direct connection to the viewer, whilst A Poem for Death #1 (2021) confronts us with the most universal subject of all: its gnarls of knotted red fur almost bringing death to life.

Daisy Parris
Daisy Parris, Sorry Six Times, 2021, oil on canvas, 50 × 40 cm. Courtesy: the artist and Sim Smith, London

‘I See You in Everyone I Love’ exudes incredible energy. There is something distinctly unapologetic about Parris’s style: attractive confidence in all its rawness; an air of punk that speaks to a defiant otherness. This birth from the guts, this connection to personal and collective truth, makes for a profoundly intimate and compassionate show.

Daisy Parris ‘I See You in Everyone I Love’ is at Sim Smith, London, until 12 February 2022. 

Main image: Daisy Parris, A Storm Inside You (detail), 2021, oil on canvas, 2 × 3.2 m. Courtesy: the artist and Sim Smith, London

Kat Hudson is a London-based artist, curator, DJ, writer and founding editor of arts and nightlife magazine, LesleyLesley had a launch exhibition at The Horse Hospital, London, in 2019.