José Parlá (American, b.1973) is a painter and historical transcriber who records his experiences using palimpsestic code and calligraphy. Parlá is also a visual raconteur who creates his work using backdrops, such as city walls marred from years of neglect, to tell the story of distress that he encounters in various places he visits. Parlá was born in Miami, FL, to Cuban parents in exile. Parlá started painting when he was just 10 years old. In 1989, he received the Francis McCommon Scholarship to the Savannah College of Art & Design in Georgia. Parlá continued his studies in the 1990s at the New World School of the Arts in Miami, FL, where, under Mel Alexemberg (American, b.1937), he studied advanced painting. He also received a Scholastic Art Award in 1989. Parlá uses calligraphy painting and graffiti on city walls to tell visual stories that interpret the urban world as a living continuing history.
In 2000, the artist began to exhibit his series of prints and paintings in various solo exhibitions in Atlanta, GA. Parlá named his first Miami, FL, solo exhibition Cityscapes. He held this exhibition in 2006. Since then, Parlá has exhibited Layered days in New York in 2008, Reading through Seeing in Hong Kong in 2009, and Walls, Diaries, and Paintings in New York in 2011. Parlá has also participated in group exhibitions including The New Yorkers held at the V1 gallery in Copenhagen, Denmark. The artist has made a great contribution to Modern Graffiti Art, using it as a tool for city walls to tell the history of the people in the cities. Parlá's exhibition artworks Walls, Diaries, and Paintings and Character Gestures have also been published as books of the same name in the years 2011 and 2012, respectively.
Recently, Parlá has collaborated with anonymous artist JR (French, b.1983) to paint street murals in Havana, Cuba. The artist has made enormous contributions to Street Art through calligraphy and graffiti; he is a notable artist in the rapidly growing Street Art Movement. Parlá has been invited to exhibit his work and lecture at the MAC Museum and Whitworth College in Spokane, WA. His works can be seen at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York, NY, The Burger Collection, Hong Kong, and in the streets of Havana. The artist lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.