Monday, September 1, 2008
Born 1973 Miami, Florida.
Born in Miami into a family of Cuban exiles, José Parlá moved to Puerto Rico at a very early age before returning to Miami again when he was nine. He currently lives and works in New York, and only recently traveled to Cuba for the first time. His life, like his work, is therefore at once extremely particular and generally reflective of the wanderings of today’s urban populations. In the context of these migrations and upheavals, Parlá is concerned with the way that cities function as palimpsests, upon which the experiences of those who pass through them are materially inscribed in decay, in writing, in the well-worn paths of their inhabitants. Parlá’s work attempts to extract and synthesize fragments of these urban environments in flux and reproduce them using the materials and methods of architectural construction: cement, wood, vinyl as well as those of traditional art like paper, paint, powdered dye, wax, and ink. Yet because these fragments are inflected by the memories and experience of the artist, he considers them to be paintings in sense that is probably truer than one that refers merely to the physical presence of pigments and oil. Parlá describes the object of his method as segmented realities or memory documents. Leading these ideas to form a personal philosophy of his work he calls Contemporary Palimpsests. Each painting bears the name of the location or experience from which it draws its source.