José Parlá: Off the Wall – NOWNESS

The Globetrotting Artist Lands in New York for His Latest Show

New York-based artist José Parlá got his start writing graffiti in Miami, but it was his dedication to transplanting the street to the gallery that won him acclaim in the art world. “Society mostly categorized [graffiti] art as vandalism, so my struggle as an artist was to show its beauty to those who could not see it,” he says, noting that, historically, the feedback wasn’t entirely positive: “The more people told me it was trash, the more I wanted to do it.” For his new show Walls, Diaries and Paintings at New York’s Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery, the artist embarked on a global treasure hunt, collecting fliers and posters from Istanbul, Havana, Tokyo, Shanghai and New York. Parlá drew inspiration from urban walls in each of the cities, reproducing them in his richly textured works, which layer the found materials with oil paint, saw dust, spray enamel and dirt, all punctuated by tag-styled signatures. Filmmaker Matt Black, who has known the artist for over a decade, discussed the personal history that informs Parlá’s methods for today’s short, the second episode in Black’s series, Reflections. Hatje Cantz will publish a monograph of the artist’s latest works in conjunction with the exhibition.




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