Ben Brown Fine Arts is delighted to present Echo of Impressions, the first solo exhibition with the gallery of New York-based artist José Parlá. Echo of Impressions 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, as a teenager, he took part in the city’s street art scene. Moving to New York in his early twenties, Parlá continued to develop his signature abstract style, informed by his studies of historical landscape painting and Abstract Expressionism. The idiosyncratic calligraphic markings that became an identifying feature of his paintings evolved out of Subway Art and were influenced by the varied scripts, symbols, and glyphs he encountered during his travels to the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America.
In Echo of Impressions, Parlá presents a new visual reality which explores his fascination with culture, architecture, myth, and language. His paintings are composed of striking colours and a dense maze of paints and textures which allude to the cityscape. Among the thick coats of acrylic, spray paints and pigmented powders one can find pieces of the city itself worked into the very fabric of the canvases. Advertising posters, political slogans, building debris and recycled materials are employed to highlight economic, social and environmental issues as witnessed by the artist in the relentless cycle of construction and destruction within the city.
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 Echo of Impressions Parlá's lifelong 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.