SCAD Museum of Art presents "Roots," an exhibition of recent artworks by SCAD painting alumnus José Parlá that explores the artist’s relationships to the rich contexts and experiences that shaped his experience and practice. A Cuban American artist based in Brooklyn, New York, Parlá is known for his paintings, architectural collaborations, sculpture and photography. He spent his formative years immersed in the thriving underground art scene of Miami, Florida’s, where the multicultural environment and social processes deeply impacted his perception of urban space. In his practice, Parlá highlights the cultural bonds between communities and the expression thereof.
He works with a fluidity that results in different scales, ranging from mid-sized canvases and sculptures to large-scale paintings and monumental site-specific installations. In his artwork, formal elements such as color, texture and the materiality of his medium are employed as a semiotic system that can be read only through feeling. Every tone, shape and surface stands as a symbol for personal reminiscences or historical facts. In the work "Nuevo Rumbo,” deep shades of Prussian blue are used to reference Cuban History from colonialism to the Cuban Revolution to current news, while soft pink areas with white lettering are used to talk about the human heart. The symbols created by the artist become more robust through a process of layering that results in areas of opacity and visibility that conceal or reveal cryptic codes.
Parlá produces a gestural landscape with juxtaposed characters, hieroglyphs and words that is deliberately created to serve as a carrier of meaning. Moreover, the brushstroke and the choreography of shapes attest to what can be described as a performative act, one that offers a navigable experience for the viewer pointing to the legacy of abstract expressionism. The titles of his works often create playful connotations as signifiers to specific places or times, thus becoming a key element to decode the work.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.