Picturing Prince: Photographs by Steve Parke is a new exhibition at Proud Galleries in London, showcasing rare and intimate prints to coincide with the recent launch of Parke’s acclaimed photobook.
The show will reveal the unique collaboration between artist and art director while illustrating Prince’s flamboyant persona and playful characteristics, culminated in an image of gender fluidity and sexual expression.
Prince and Parke met in the late '80s at the artist’s renowned private estate and recording studio, Paisley Park, described by the latter as a "mecca of creativity". Their partnership was consolidated when Prince requested Parke to be his official photographer, a creative alliance that produced an extensive archive of over 500 photographs.
Parke worked as Prince’s art director for 13 years and together they pioneered the star’s eclectic image producing album covers, designs and often working overnight to achieve Prince’s visions.
Through this exhibition, Parke shares a stripped back documentary of Prince’s enigmatic persona, revealing the humanistic and multifaceted depth to his character, formally hidden from the public eye. Impromptu shoots from around the Paisley Park site offer a glimpse into life off the stage and the drive behind Prince’s ambition.
Whilst an employee, Parke was also a trusted companion of the icon and it is evident throughout the shots that the pair shared a unique connection. Speaking of an atmospheric image taken through reeds in the Paisley Park grounds, Parke reminisced: "I knew I was pushing it but I thought the shot would be worth it. He stepped back and back and back. I can only imagine he was starting to sink, but he didn’t seem to mind. 'That’s great,' I said finally. As I looked through the lens I noticed his demeanour was a world apart from his usual one: he just seemed utterly relaxed and at peace."
Proud will be commemorating the genius of a man whose creative expression continues to unfold. Picturing Prince will be accompanied by the fully illustrated book published by Parke in collaboration with Octopus Publishing Group. Picturing Prince: Photographs by Steve Parke launches at Proud Central, 32 John Adam Street, London WC2N 6BP on 9 November and runs until 3 December.
All images courtesy of Park Galleries & © Steven Parke. Main image: A Case of You, Paisley Park Studios, 1997 © Steven Parke