José Parlá: Nature of Language


“Nature of Language” is a site-specific installation commissioned by SNØHETTA and North Carolina State University. Born in Miami, Florida, of Cuban parents, José Parlá is a contemporary artist/painter. Parlá also works with photography, filmmaking, sculpture, and printmaking with his brother Rey Parlá. The artist is represented by Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery (505 West 24th Street, New York). I highly recommend the video on the creation of “Nature of Language” (12 x 12 feet; gesso, acrylic, ink, and gamvar on wood.)

Artist’s Statement: This is a written painting for and about the nature of language, an abstract landscape of words, phrases, names, and poetic thoughts inspired by drifting through Raleigh while on walks and visiting unexpected places through a playful survey that eyed various historical resources on a psycho-geographical exploration of the city. The painting is a reflection of my awareness – a diary of these experiential observations that form the syntax of its visual vocabulary.

Although illegible at first sight, the juxtaposed characters, gestures, hieroglyphs, and words become readable through feeling, as it is my hope that the work evokes the language of your own inner voice – of your own history. In an era when technology is taking over as the driving force of communication, art reminds us of our roots and our need for face-to-face communication. This Nature is our mirror, as art allows this bridge to be possible through the language of calligraphy, I pay homage to this Nature and the history of languages, which are the mirrors of our present condition.

I found inspiration in the essence of words and their combined power. However abstract, this landscape of gestural forms and characters serves as a carrier of meaning for the viewer to read into or feel the Nature of its universal language, and putting grammatical forms on hold.

To see video, go to

For more on the Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery, see

Image above from “A Scripted Life” at scalar designs blog; see

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