Ben Brown Fine Arts is delighted to present Imprint, the first solo exhibition with the gallery of New York based artist José Parlá. Imprint features a series of new large scale abstract paintings and sculptural pieces drawing on key and recurring themes in Parlá’s practice including the urban space, human markings and calligraphy. The title refers to both the physical impressions left around the city by time and passers-by and the inspirations and experiences which Imprint on our psyche.
Born in Miami to Cuban parents, Parlá spent his childhood in Puerto Rico before returning with his family to Miami in the 1980s, where he spent his teenage years taking part in the city’s artistic counterculture street scene. Moving to New York in his early twenties, Parlá continued to look to the urban landscape for inspiration, further developing his individual abstractionist style. Central to this is Parlá’s use of texture, a dense maze of paints and forms alluding to the cityscape, and his signature calligraphic markings, evolved out of Subway Art and influenced by his travels to Cuba, the Middle East and Asia.
Composed of striking colours, shapes and textures, Parlá’s paintings present a new visual reality, which explores the artist’s fascination with culture, myth and language. Among the thick coats of acrylic, spray paints and pigmented powders one can find pieces of the city itself, comprising old posters, political slogans and debris worked into the very fabric of the canvases. The mood associated with particular locations and scenes is reflected in Parlá’s choice of paints, private observations are conveyed in bold brushstrokes while personal narratives are transcribed in calligraphies. Each layer represents a memory now preserved, each line and shape charting an event of note.
In Imprint Parlá’s life long dialogue with the urban subconscious, the tempo and flow of the streets, and musical and literary inspirations all come together in a celebration of colour and form. His artworks tell stories of immigrant roots, city wanderings and human encounters which reference personal histories while also leaving room for his viewers to find their own stories.