Experience and time add texture. As we get older, we add layers of meaning onto what we see, giving us, hopefully, richer understanding of the world around us and our place in it. For José Parlá, he paints this feeling, this exuberance of age and time. When he was in the hospital last year with COVID and the doctors told him he may never paint again, that sort of experience became what we see in Polarities, his new solo show at Library Street Colletive in Detroit. This show is about the density of language and time passing, with each work its own ecosystem of how the artist has allowed himself to live in and nourish over his career.
There is physicality in this show. The wood sculptures give a sense of permanence, marked by a city in constant flux. There is language underneath the abstractions, where Parlá takes his graffiti roots and transforms into a historical documents of a place that is in constant motion. That is vital here: permanence and fluidity. It’s about the traces of existence. Architecture feels umoved by the marks we leave on the city feels as if they can be edited, added to, erased, reworked. What I love about permanence and where Parlá plays with it is that it doesn’t have to be about one place, but our collective places and what we bring to them. Humanity is the heartbeat here, and Parlá is full of life. —Evan Pricco