José Parlá – Textures of Memory, Curated by Dieter Buchhart

18.09.2019 - 11.10.2019
The Annex, 2/F Nan Fung Place, 173 Des Voeux Road Central

Hong Kong Contemporary Art (HOCA) Foundation and Ben Brown Fine Arts are proud to present Textures of Memory, the most comprehensive exhibition of José Parlá’s in Hong Kong to date. Spanning across two venues and curated by Dieter Buchhart, the exhibition masterfully lays out the historical context of the artist’s oeuvre with 12 representative paintings and sculptures from 2004 to 2018 and a new series of works from 2019. HOCA’s exhibition will take place at The Annex, 2/F, Nan Fung Place, Central from 18 September to 11 October 2019. Ben Brown Fine Arts will present a new body of work by the artist at the gallery, 303 Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street, Central from 19 September – 6 November 2019.



Parlá’s identity as the son of Cuban exiles and his deep involvement in hip-hop’s underground art culture starting at the young age of 10 can be traced throughout his artistic practice. After studying at the Savannah College of Art and Design and New World School of the Arts, Parlá began unifying his formal training with his work on the streets. Abstract Expressionism became a bridge to graffiti, and in his consequent practice, both can be easily discerned. His physical movements dictate the marks made on the canvas in the same way that his physical travel through cities allow him to observe the way anonymous authors create expressions on walls marking locations around the world.



As a graffiti writer and calligrapher Parlá was, and is, continually observing his environment – seeking spots to mark, sign, and practice his lettering. Parlá’s creative process simulates the passing of time and the history of an imaginary location. Parlá compiles archives of walls and textures and uses them as the basis for new compositions and color choices. From there, layers of paint echoing stucco, writing, posters, and advertisements are added, subtracted, carved, and added again. The resulting artworks act as time-capsules created in a visual language of decay through which he can explore socioeconomics, politics and history.



Including sculptural works along with large-format paintings,Textures of Memory serves as an anthropological study of the impoverished conditions literally visualized on the walls of deteriorating cities. These pieces capture the rawness and energy of urban decay in a celebration of the civil disobedience which often comes hand-in-hand with socioeconomic hardships. Parlá’s large-scale painting, Nuevo Rumbo(2015), references 500 years of colonial history and geopolitical turmoil between Cuba and the United States. From left to right the painting moves from the bloody era of Spanish colonial rule that started in 1492, to the fight for Cuban Independence in 1902, the 1959 Revolution, the Bay of Pigs Invasion, and the Cuban Missile crisis, up to the hopeful re-ignition of friendly relations under then United States President Obama in 2015. Spanning the last fifteen years of the artist’s practice, the works presented across the two consecutive exhibitions weave together the stories of Parlá’s recent past and explore the collective memories of the world through which he travels.



To complement the works showcased in the exhibition, HOCA Foundation and Ben Brown Fine Arts will publish a monographic book that delves further into the past 30 years of Parlá’s oeuvre, charting the artist’s journey across a series of significant exhibitions throughout his career.



An artist talk presented in partnership with SCAD Hong Kong will take place on 19 September at 6:30 pm on the SCAD campus, featuring the artist José Parlá and Textures of Memory curator Dieter Buchhart via webcam. Visit HOCA Foundation website for more on the above event details:



Textures of Memory


A comprehensive exhibition spanning across 2 venues:


Hong Kong Contemporary Art (HOCA) Foundation Exhibition 

18 September – 11 October 2019

Opening Hours: 12 pm – 8 pm, Tuesday – Sunday

Address: The Annex, 2/F Nan Fung Place, 173 Des Voeux Road Central (MTR Sheung Wan Station Exit E4 or Hong Kong Station Exit C)

Admission: Free



_ _ _



Ben Brown Fine Arts Exhibition 

19 September – 6 November 2019

Opening Hours: 11 pm – 7 pm, Monday – Saturday

Address: 303 Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street, Central, Hong Kong (MTR Central Station Exit D1)



_ _ _




Media Inquiry

For high-res images and interview with artist José Parlá and/or curator Dieter Buchhart, please contact:


Blair Ng || +852 2522 8775


For media inquiries about HOCA Foundation:

Claire Crozel | Director || +852 9177 0918

Kristy Kong | Exhibitions Manager || +852 5703 5218




Notes to Editors


About José Parlá


José Parlá (b. 1973, Miami, Florida, USA) is a critically acclaimed, multidisciplinary artist working in painting, large-scale murals, photography, video, and sculpture. He has emerged in the past decade as one of his generation’s most fervent champions of painting, working for more than twenty years to establish a style of painting that transforms the language of the street into a hybrid form of abstraction and urban realism.


Parlá is publicly known for his permanent installations of large-scale paintings. In 2014 he was commissioned to paint the monumental mural ONE: Union of the Senses in the lobby of One World Trade Center, New York City. Other notable large-scale commission include Nature of Languageat the James B. Hunt Jr. Library at North Carolina State University; Diary of Brooklynat the Barclays Center (2013), and Amistad América at The University of Texas at Austin (2018).


Parlá has exhibited worldwide and collaborated with artists from various countries. In 2012, José worked with French artist JR on a piece titled Wrinkles of the City: Havana, Cuba, which was selected to be in the 11th Havana Biennial. As part of the collaboration, Parlá and JR co-directed a documentary by the same title that was awarded the Grand Prize for Documentary Short and Best U.S. Premiere Documentary Short in 2013.


Solo exhibitions of Parlá’s work have been organized at the Neuberger Museum of Art, New York, NY (2018); SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, GA (2017); National Young Arts Foundation, Miami, FL (2016); and High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA (2015).


Select group exhibitions and biennials featuring Parlá’swork include Beyond The Streets, New York, NY (2019); GLASSTRESS(2019); collateral exhibition of the Venice Biennial, Murano; UM Museum of Art, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI (2017); Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, NY (2016); Van Every/Smith Galleries, Davidson College, Davidson, NC (2016); and The Havana Biennial, Havana, Cuba (2012).


Upcoming José Parlá exhibitions include Isthmus(Sept 9, 2019) at Istanbul 74′ gallery selected as a parallel project of the 16th Istanbul Biennial of the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts; and It’s Yours (Feb 26, 2020) at The Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York City.


Parlá’s work is in several public collections including, The British Museum, London; The Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; POLA Museum of Art, Hakone; The Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, NY; and The National Museum of Fine Arts, Havana, Cuba.


About Dieter Buchhart


Dieter Buchhart (b. 1971, Vienna, Austria) is a curator and art theorist with a Ph.D. in Art History and Restoration (Science). Curator of many exhibitions in renowned international museums and art spaces. From 2007 to 2009 he was the director of the Kunsthalle Krems. Since 1999 he has written art criticisms, monographies, and interviews for Kunstforum Internationaland numerous other art magazines. He has contributed many catalog essays and lectures as an art theorist. His research foci range from art circa 1900, Expressionism to art from the 1980s to contemporary art. Upcoming and recent exhibitions he has curated include;Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; Jean-Michel Basquiat: Made in Japan, Mori Arts Center Gallery, Tokyo; Textures as Memory, HOCA Foundation and Ben Brown Fine Arts, Hong Kong; Jean-Michel Basquiat, The Brant Foundation Art Study Center, New York; Jean-Michel Basquiat, Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris; Egon Schiele, Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris; Basquiat: Boom For Real(co-curator), Barbican Art Gallery, London.