Miami-born artist José Parlá’s new work for the Rolls-Royce Art Programme was unveiled yesterday at the iconic Jewel Box at the National YoungArts Foundation (YoungArts), Miami. The exhibition entitled Roots, was commissioned as part of the Rolls-Royce Art Programme in partnership with the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), and is curated by Laurie Ann Farrell. The site-specific installation of paintings and sculpture is the worldwide debut of the body of work and will be on public display until 15 December 2016.
Working together with artists around the world, the Rolls-Royce Art Programme seeks to contribute to the fabric of the contemporary art world. Through Parlá’s own work mentoring young artists, namely as a ‘Master Teacher’ with YoungArts, he shares an affinity with Rolls-Royce and its legacy of fostering creativity. Rolls-Royce itself is committed to developing future talent at its Global Centre of Excellence in Goodwood, England, where artisans perfect timeless skills in order to create personal, emotive and rare objects of desire for some of the most discerning customers in the world.
This exhibition brings the renowned Cuban-American artist back home to Miami Beach, where he spent his formative years in the underground art scene of the 1980s and early 90s. The work in the exhibition receives its connection to the past and present through those roots, and into the branches of Parlá’s family background, his education, life experience, and the serendipity involved in this project. Parlá’s place in his own family history layered against the backdrop of Cuba’s past form the basis for the works in the show. The interior space of the historic Jewel Box, the former headquarters of a Cuban Rum family empire, will be transformed using artificial walls that will complement the existing structure by creating a poetic dialogue between the paintings, sculpture and natural daylight, as it shines through the stained glass panels. Three of the large scale paintings in the exhibition, Patria, Hatuey and 24 de Febrero are named after ships from the Cuban Navy that lent their support in the audacious flights of early aviators, Domingo Rosillo, and Parlá’s grandfather, Augustin Parlá, in 1912. Parlá’s grandfather was one of the first Cuban pilots to make the flight from Key West to Havana.
On a more personal approach to painting, the works Eureka to Flagler, Whiteplains to DeKalb, and Ashland to Baltic, use the street names of places where the artist lived, painted in the streets, and set up studios from Miami to the Bronx, and Brooklyn.
Nuevo Rumbo, a 6 by 24 ft. painting, is an abstract landscape of the history of Cuba from pre-colonial times to contemporary history. In its composition, the complexity of layers in the left side of the work can be read as the many layers of difficulty of Cuba’s history. These layers are interwoven with Parlá’s own thoughts ranging from the Spanish Colonial invasion of Cuba and the demise of its native people and culture; to the up-rising of slaves and onset of wars that would lead to the Ten Years War and the Cuban Independence War through Fidel Castro’s Revolution. The mid-center of the painting starts to expand into smoother blends, bridging to the current history of President Raul Castro and President Obama negotiating new relations between the United States and Cuba. A possible new open-ended story starts there. The exhibition will travel to the SCAD Museum of Art in 2017.
José Parlá joins renowned artists Sudarshan Shetty and Yang Fudong as a member of the Rolls-Royce Art Programme in 2016. Rolls-Royce recently celebrated a successful launch of Sudarshan Shetty’s commission for the Art Programme in November 2016 in Mumbai. Yang Fudong’s commission for the Art Programme will be launched at the Shanghai Center of Photography, Shanghai, in December 2016.
Rolls-Royce is committed to creating unique and aesthetically powerful motor cars, which transcend the world of conveyance to become works of art themselves. Their starting point is a moment of artistic inspiration, which is executed at the hands of the world’s most revered craftspeople using only the very finest materials.