Born 1973 – United States
José Parlá has emerged in the past decade as one of his generation’s most fervent champions of painting, working for more than twenty years to establish a style of painting that transforms the language of the street into a hybrid form of abstraction and urban realism.
From the outset, Parlá has sought to interpret his experience of cities that have served as crossroads in his life, from Miami to Brooklyn, San Juan to Havana, London to Tokyo, Istanbul to Hong Kong 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 like accretions upon the surfaces of walls and streets, like the lines on the hands and faces of the people who inhabit them.
Parlá is publicly known for his permanent installations of large-scale paintings. In 2015 he painted the monumental mural ONE: Union of the Senses in the lobby of One World Trade Center.
Parlá constructs his paintings improvisationally by layering materials, saying “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.”