The title Surface Body / Action Space discloses various modes of practice and philosophy that define Parlá’s work. In his painting and sculpture, heavy textures and thick application of paint form a layered substructure that conveys weight, volume and permanence, while veils of color, rapid calligraphic marks and remnants of text form a palimpsest-like surface suggesting the ephemeral: memory, the traces of lives and time. Like graffiti-cloaked fragments of city walls, the works evoke societies in upheaval and solemnize the distinctly human impulse to leave a record of our presence.
Parlá’s Cuban American heritage is a duality that infuses all of his work. Where the urban wall structures signify fixed geographical-political boundaries, the gestural performance symbolizes marks of personal freedom. Parlá sees his work as “erasing the hyphen” between the two words, while similarly bridging polarities between painting and sculpture, maximal and minimal, abstraction and representation.
José Parlá was born to Cuban parents in Miami, Florida, in 1973 and lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. His monumental commissioned works may be seen at One World Trade Center, The Barclays Center, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s BAM Fisher Building. The solo exhibition José Parlá: Segmented Realities remained on view through May this year at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, and his work is included in the 2015 Bienal de la Habana, Havana, Cuba, through June. In addition to the work concurrently on view at Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery, Parlá has an outdoor installation of sculpture at The Standard High Line Plaza in New York City.