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Jose Parla's New Monograph

Adaptation/Translation from the ambitious Brooklyn artist

To say that Jose Parla is one of the most interesting and talented artists to have ever emerged from graffiti is no overstatement. His paintings would fight equally for attention next to major artists like Cy Twombly, Antoni Tapies, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Jackson Pollock. He makes seriously impressive, awe-inspiring canvases. To coincide with his current sell out show at Elms Lester Painting Rooms, Parla has created his largest monograph – a stunning limited edition book that captures his unique approach to painting. The Brooklyn based artist takes a break from his hectic schedule to chat about the book and his love of the printed page.

Dazed Digital: Tell me about the Elms Lesters catalogue. Obviously a lot of thought went into the process and production.
Jose Parla: The book just published by Elms Lesters of my new solo show is titled Adaptation / Translation. I co-art directed the book with London graphic designer Iain Cadby, who is magnificent to work with. He has a great sensibility about my work and vision, so together we were able to create an even flow. Cadby spent days at the printers going over all the colors and shades to make everything as close to perfect as possible. The paper used in the different sections was selected very carefully, as well as the fabric used for the book cover. We have an introduction by Paul Jones of Elms Lesters and another by art collector Saeb Eigner, as well as an extensive essay by Michael Betancourt. The essays in the book illuminate aspects of my work that will clarify many questions asked in the past about my direction and history.

DD: Why did you decide to do the loose prints at the back?
JP: The inserts in the back of the book are of paintings I created in London. I thought it was a fantastic way to make the book interesting by having those made in the UK as loose inserts people can place on their walls if they wish.

DD: What do you like about art books? You have quite a personal collection...
JP: There is so much history in books that you cannot get from just visiting an exhibition. I have sections on books about painting, photography and sculpture, but my favorite section is the exhibition catalogs I have collected over the years. I was there in person at the show - it’s a nice memory and souvenir.

DD: What other artist's books and catalogues do you love and admire?
JP: I recently got a book titled People, by New York based photographer Stefan Ruiz, that is something of a self portrait of his story and life. I found it interesting to see someone’s story told through the portraits of others. I also like a catalog of Damian Hirst, which was published by Norton Museum of Art. It is a small size book of four paintings titled The Bilotti Paintings. It’s a small book but it has a beautiful feeling.

DD: What have you got coming up project wise?
JP: At the moment I have an upcoming solo show in New York titled Layered Days opening November 8 at Cristina Grajales in Soho. I’ve always wanted to make a show about New York City and the influence this city has had on my paintings in comparison to cities I have observed through out my travels around the world. An observation of people, the walls and derelict environments.