José Parlá’s “Breathing” [호흡] opened at the Gana Art Center in Seoul, Korea, on October 27, 2022. It will remain on view until December 4, 2022. Gana Art Center is located at 28, Pyeongchang 30-gil, Jingo-gu, Seoul, Korea. Read Parlá’s “Artist Statement” below.
“It’s almost as though, whether it be George Floyd or others who have died from coronavirus that should not have died, almost in a spiritual way, when they breathed their last breath, their breath came in us, and now we have work to do.” Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II
The breath refreshes the spirit from moment to moment, and the breath of the spirit replenishes our collective physiology. The breath is the art that bridges new connections and allows us to reflect on the heavens through the body and our memories. We all share breathing and the universal gift of awareness it provides us. Taking our time, learning to appreciate quietness, and slowing down are the tools for a vanguard of transformation into an awakening of collective healing.
The breath only makes itself visible through our actions. We are born in breath and die with it; it is the first act in the divine process of creation that feeds our thoughts, inspiration, and soul. Let us not take it for granted since it can be taken away anytime. Reclaim time for yourself, meditate, contemplate, focus, and breathe quietly. This alone is a socio-political act and message.
At this moment in history, we are experiencing the collective shock of COVID-19; the world witnessed the words of George Floyd, “I can’t breathe,” on television and social media that awakened people around the world to resist the continuous racist, fascist and oppressive systems. Many people worldwide have seen friends and family feeling ill and possibly dying, bringing us ever closer together as fellow human beings in a world radically changing at an immeasurable speed, which goes against the simple act of breathing that gives life. We can awaken and sustain each other in the new breathing space through art.
Breathing is a vital sign of life. This body of paintings with the same title is destined for the Gana Art Center in Seoul, South Korea, and is part of an ongoing multi-titled series of paintings that started in 2021 and that have been completed in 2022.
These paintings and sculptures share a period of creation that begins with my recovery period at Mount Sinai Hospital, New York City, after waking up from a three-month-long coma due to a severe COVID-19 infection.
In this text, I explain the order in which they have been painted, but that does not reflect the order in which they have been publicly shown. The first part is now on view at the Brooklyn Museum in New York City and is titled Ciclos: Blooms of Mold. The second part is still a work in progress in my Brooklyn studio and has not been shown anywhere. The third part was recently exhibited in the city of Detroit, entitled, Polarities, shown at Library Street Collective.
The paintings deal with the simplest action of life, the breath. The layers of paint, lines, words, texture, and collage allude to the social, political unrest, and health issues the world is experiencing collectively.
For more information, see https://www.mutualart.com/Exhibition/Jose-Parla–Breathing/130DB8CD807B1561