A 'Pirate Alphabet' by José Parlá
3 Artworks
1 Artists

“I’m a painter, an artist. Simple. My work is about painting. I love everyone, and I am also a pirate who prefers to dream of utopia. Not a political state of being, just a free place in which I can change anytime I want, because that’s my dream.”- José Parlá


José Parlá is a contemporary American painter, best known for his monumental calligraphic abstractions. Composed from layers of paint, gestural drawing and found ephemera, his work evokes the histories of urban environments, blurring the lines between identity, environment, graffiti, and language.His work provides markers of time, and is about the accumulation of information that settles upon the surfaces of walls and streets, and in the lines on the hands and faces of the people who inhabit them.

Parlá has gone on to widespread critical acclaim, garnering commissions for large-scale architectural installations such as the Barclays Center in New York, and a 90-foot mural in the lobby of the One World Trade Center in lower Manhattan. Other notable mural projects include ‘Nature of Language’ at the James B. Hunt Jr. Library at North Carolina State University and ‘Amistad América’ at The University of Texas at Austin.Solo exhibitions of his work have been organized at the Neuberger Museum of Art, NY, NY (2018); SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, GA (2017); National YoungArts Foundation, Miami, FL (2016); and High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA (2015). Parlá’s work is held in several public collections including The British Museum, London, United Kingdom; The Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; POLA Museum of Art, Hakone, Japan; The Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, New York; and The National Museum of Fine Arts, Havana, Cuba.

Moniker Projects is proud to offer for sale three artworks that are distinctive of his oeuvre: The Founders, The Awakening and Different City Similar Story.


Moniker Projects
A 'Pirate Alphabet' by José Parlá

The Founders 

The work was originally created for a 2020 solo show It’s Yours at The Bronx Museum of the Arts. The artist has previously suffered a severe case of Covid-19, living him unable to create art. The result of his work after this incident is a tribute to his community, and all those who assisted in his recovery, and whose memories he experienced amidst the dreams of his induced coma. The artist documented and shared a piece of his life with us in the text below:

"I decided to write this text to document that history, decipher it a bit more for you, and to share my personal artistic beginnings through this unique painting, entitled The Founders. The ensuing edition with Avant Arte pays homage to this contemporary art form and subcultural visual language, and allows many who have also experienced the battle with and adverse effects of COVID-19 to connect with my story. During my hospitalization and struggle with the virus I was placed in an induced-coma. I feel blessed to have woken up from this dream state. In my dreams, I traveled to many places and connected with friends like Futura, Lee Q., and others. When I woke up the dreams felt more like real memories. I connected deeply with my roots as I visited friends in Japan, Miami, Hong Kong, Australia and New York as if I was saying my final goodbyes, but I wasn’t ready to go and when I woke up I thought I was in an airplane at JFK airport having returned from all these trips.[...]

The painting is dedicated to the artists who started this revolutionary form of public expression, to the resilient artistic community with roots in New York City and to all who continuously carry the art form in new directions to create in various art-making genres like: painting, sculpture, graphic design, film, fashion and photography – which keep cities so alive. The artists I met as a young kid in South Florida came from many cultural and ethnic backgrounds, and the differences between them did not matter. It was art that brought us together like art has and continues to bring us together today. For this, I am eternally grateful.[..]

All of these names represent the memories of shared times with each artist. They are layered into The Founders as a mark of respect for a diverse community and friendships that signify an entwined global movement based on a mentorship system. With this edition and through the original painting, a record is born of the artists I admire who have inspired me as I shaped my art.” - José Parlá, on the Founders


The Awakening

José Parlá’s works have embraced within them the histories, memories, and experiences that Parlá himself lives through in his multicultural surroundings, including dissonance arising from identity politics and immigration issues.His works, inheriting the legacy of urban realism while renewing the tradition of post-war abstraction in art history, resemble walls in the city that accumulate material over time and change its appearance according to the people living within them. - Yuka Tsuruno Gallery


The work was part of the exhibition The awakening, that took place from September 5th to December 19th in Yuka Tsuruno Gallery. On the occasion of the exhibition, Parlá has specifically composed a poem that narrates the artist's experience with police violence and structural racism, highlighting the persisting discrimination against immigrants and the culture of resistance.  Just as the poem challenges injustice, the works in the exhibition brought forward similar experiences narrated in Parlá's 'piratic' language.


Different City Similar Story

"Through immersing ourselves into the terrain of Parlá’s surfaces we can almost hear the sound track of the streets. Sounds emerging from car horns, voices, trains screeching into a subway station, music, footsteps, laughter, a saxophone playing in the distance, all blending as layers that help to create the visual symphony of Parla’s gesture.[...]

Parlá is fascinated with how the city constructs itself and functions as a palimpsest, upon which the experiences of those who pass through are materially inscribed on decaying walls. He sees the city as a vertical grid, from the bridges, to the streets, down to the subterranean warrens of train tunnels, pipes and wires connecting to people living life inside apartments. Theconstruction of the city and the passing of time find their equivalent in the way he attacks a painting, how he sees the need to layer his surfaces the way the city itself in layered. Parlá constructs his surfaces not only using oils and acrylic, but with the materials of the city: with cement, posters torn from walls, old newspapers, chunks of materials found on the street or in subway stations. He then reworks the materials until the colors of mold, rust or deterioration are right for the composition and have acquired the patina of weathered age.[...]

In their multi layered complexity José’s paintings draw the viewer into their indecipherable depths, but once there, once we have given up the attempt to read for “content,” we are subsumed in the play of line and color – blues, cool whites, rusts, reds and umber – drawn further and further into a mesmerizing depth, where stories both happy and sad play out, summoning emotions about life, love, friends, politics, and sex." - Manon Slome,  New York, 2006. © Jose Parla. All Rights Reserved




Artworks for sale
José Parlá
The Awakening
José Parlá
The Founders
José Parlá 2