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Abstract Expressionists We Love: José Parlá

on April 17, 2023

José Parlá
New York, NY

I'm a longtime follower of Brooklyn-based José Parlá. Born in Miami in 1973 to Cuban parents, Parlá grew up between Puerto Rico and the mainland US. Sensitive to the politics of his surroundings, his art is influenced by expressions of resistance and resilience--"[t]hey are paintings that are alive to political resistance, but also resistance to death."

contemporary abstract expressionist artist José Parlá

'It's Yours: The International Illegal Construct Against Indigenous People' by José Parlá, 2020.

In 2021, Parlá spent three months in a medically-induced coma after contracting COVID-19, during which time he also had a stroke. He wasn't expected to live. However, his recovery and return to painting has led to some of his best work yet.

Contemporary Abstract Expressionist artist Jose Parla

'Writers Bench' by José Parlá, 2020.

It's the calligraphic graffiti-esque quality to Parlá's work that I love—he's a former tagger ('Ease' was his tag) and former competitive breakdancer--along with the layers in many of his pieces that look like the weatherworn walls of old buildings with history. So his art is visually embedded in New York's hip-hop and street art culture and has a definite urban feel.

contemporary abstract expressionist artist José Parlá

'Polarity' by José Parlá, 2022.

Although, his newer work is somewhat more ephemeral (above), which is a reflection of his near-death experience. Describing a recent series, 'Breathing', he explained that these paintings "dealt with the question that persisted in my mind of what I would do with the breath that I have left. When you come so close to death, you think about the time you have left and what will you do with it."

contemporary abstract expressionist artist José Parlá

José Parlá painting the large mural at One World Trade Center.

One of the most constant qualities of his art is the movement, which reflects how he creates—sometimes leaping across the face of his canvas as paints.


Pete Stein
Founder, Galerie Stein

Galerie Stein will be presenting several contemporary Abstract Expressionist artists both virtually at and in our gallery in Montreal in 2024.

Contact: Pete Stein - Galerie Stein at