José Parlá, is a Brooklyn-based artist who is known for his paintings, architectural collaborations, sculpture and photography. His work has received critical acclaim and lies between the boundary of abstraction and calligraphy
While Parlá works at various scales and with different mediums, he is publicly known for his permanent installations of large-scale paintings. These paintings are found within numerous notable North American institutions from The One World Trade Center in NYC to the Hunt’s Library by Snohetta in Raleigh’s North Carolina State University.
Within Parlá’s work; either large or small, through sculpture or painting, there are layers of hidden stories. Evoking the pace of a frenetic metropolis, he constructs his paintings improvisationally by layering materials- “I’m really interested in the way our lives are built up out of memory and history, and how we reflect that in our surroundings.
Parlá has exhibited worldwide and collaborated with artists from various countries. In 2012, Jose worked with French artist JR on a piece titled “Wrinkles of the City: Havana”, Cuba a project, which in the same year was selected to be in the 11th Havana Biennial. As part of the collaboration, Parlá and JR co-directed a documentary by the same title that was awarded the Grand Prize for Documentary Short and Best U.S. Premiere Documentary Short in 2013.
José Parlá (born 1973) has received critical acclaim for his works, which lie at the boundary between abstraction and calligraphy. Composed from layers of paint, gestural drawing and found ephemera, his work evokes the histories of urban environments. Parlá is a documentarian of city life. Using the backdrop of world cities, he re-makes in paint what can appear to be photorealist fragments of what he sees in the chaos and rush of the metropolis. His paintings reflect the accumulated memories and experiences, the walls that show a place that was, but no longer is — built over, renewed in some other configuration. Parlá paints revelations — transcriptions of the process — proof of the history of our neighborhoods. Parlá’s work shows that words, signs, and marks come to mean more; over time, in this symphony of diversity, both incongruous and in harmony, that surrounds our contemporary life. His practice originated in graffiti’s experimental and collaborative approaches during the eighties. These markings expose his drive to say or divulge the passing of time, in the moment.
“Caught very much in the moment, Parlá’s time is always transitory, a measure of echoes rather than certainties, a resonance of history where absence constitutes a more formidable presence than anything so shiny and new as the present.” – Carlo McCormick
“Like Gerhard Richter, Parlá sees our art-historical notions of abstraction and abstract expressionism as having inextricably and poetically woven themselves in our contemporary understanding of the real, the authentic, the dramatic, the historic, the classic, the modern, the global, the magical, the African, the human.” – Greg Tate
Primarily a painter of murals, paintings, and works on paper, José Parlá also produces installations, video, sculpture, and photographic works that explore or respond to urban landscapes. Parlá’s large-scale compositions resemble city walls that, like palimpsests or psychogeographic maps, have accrued years of graffiti, posters, and fliers; he blends graffiti-like curvy gestures, calligraphy, and personal inscriptions with blurred color fields, using brushes, markers, spray paint, and sometimes fragments of fliers and posters. Parlá has produced several public commissions, including a giant mural at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn. “With making abstract painting,” he has said, “I felt that what I was doing and what I’m still doing is translating the many different cultures and many different languages that I’m confronting.