Watercolour, acrylic, graphite and powder pigment on paper
55.5cm x 76cm
Signed and dated by the artist
José Parlá is a contemporary American painter, best known for his monumental calligraphic abstractions. Composed from layers of paint, gestural drawing and found ephemera, his work evokes the histories of urban environments, blurring the lines between identity, environment, graffiti, and language.
José Parlá (born 1973, Miami) started painting on walls in Miami when he was 10 years old, often signing his work with his nickname ‘Ease’. He received the Francis McCommon Scholarship to the Savannah College of Art & Design at 16 and later studied at Miami Dade Community College and New World School of the Arts under Mel Alexemberg. Parlá moved to the Bronx after his father died and established himself as an artist in New York, initially supporting himself by designing album covers and T-shirts for hip-hop artists such as Gang Starr.
From the outset, Parlá has sought to interpret his experience of cities that have served as crossroads in his life as a central theme in his work, while purposefully engaging with the rich history of painting since the rise of abstraction in the 1950s. His work provides markers of time, and is about the accumulation of information that settles upon the surfaces of walls and streets, and in the lines on the hands and faces of the people who inhabit them.
Parlá has exhibited worldwide and collaborated with artists from various countries. In 2012, he worked with French artist JR on a project titled ‘Wrinkles of the City: Havana’, which in the same year was selected for the 11th Havana Biennial. As part of the collaboration, Parlá and JR co-directed a documentary of the same name that was awarded the Grand Prize for Documentary Short and Best U.S. Premiere Documentary Short in 2013.
Parlá has gone on to widespread critical acclaim, garnering commissions for large-scale architectural installations such as the Barclays Center in New York, and a 90-foot mural in the lobby of the One World Trade Center in lower Manhattan. Other notable mural projects include ‘Nature of Language’ at the James B. Hunt Jr. Library at North Carolina State University and ‘Amistad América’ at The University of Texas at Austin.
Solo exhibitions of his work have been organized at the Neuberger Museum of Art, NY, NY (2018); SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, GA (2017); National YoungArts Foundation, Miami, FL (2016); and High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA (2015).
Parla’s work is held in several public collections including The British Museum, London, United Kingdom; The Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; POLA Museum of Art, Hakone, Japan; The Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, New York; and The National Museum of Fine Arts, Havana, Cuba.
Jose Parla lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.
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