José Parlá (b. 1973) has been working for more than twenty ﬁve 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 known for his permanent installations of large-scale paintings and community engagement as a co-founder of Wide Awakes. In 2015 he painted the monumental mural ONE: Union of the Senses in the lobby of One World Trade Center. Other notable mural projects include Nature of Language at the James B. Hunt Jr. Library at North Carolina State University, and the mural Diary of Brooklyn at the Barclays Center, and Amistad América at The University of Texas at Austin. Solo institutional exhibitions of Parla’s work have been organized at The Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York (2020); Istanbul74’ a project of the Istanbul Biennial (2019); HOCA Foundation, Hong Kong (2019); Kennedy Center, Washington D.C. (2018); Neuberger Museum of Art, New York (2018); SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah (2017); National YoungArts Foundation, Miami (2016); and The High Museum of Art, Atlanta (2015). Parlá’s work is in several public collections including Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM); The British Museum, London; The Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; POLA Museum of Art, Hakone, Japan; The Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, New York; El Espacio, Miami; and The National Museum of Fine Arts, Havana, Cuba. Parlá studied at Miami Dade Community College, New World School of the Arts, and Savannah College of Art & Design. He lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.