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José Parlá Studio, Brooklyn, 2006

2006: José Parlá On His Debut Visit To Cuba

Taken from the BLAG book 'Art'

You’re originally from Miami and your family is from Cuba. You went to Cuba for the first time fairly recently, can you tell us about your experiences and observations?

“This is a difficult thing for me. I went to Cuba in January of 2004. I had the experience of meeting part of my family for the first time ever. They have remained in Cuba all their lives. I’ve only known them from photos and family letters or their voices through occasional short calls. This trip to see the island and meet familial roots has been one of the most important steps I’ve taken in my life.

“I have family in Habana and a town called Aguada de Pasajeros near Cienfuegos. Cuba is beautiful and different than any other place I have ever travelled to. The old style Spanish architecture and buildings are amazing, but are falling apart in most places because of a lack of maintenance. Habana is in serious need of restoration. Its present façade and state of decay emanates a type of ineffable beauty and also inspires my work.

In Cuba you can see the layers of paint peeled off from the walls partly revealing what was there before. The decay is filled with colour and texture much like my dreams. Some places are better kept than others due to traffic and the economy.

“The people of Habana are as busy as New Yorkers. Habana is not a slow paced city; everyone is working, moving, out to survive the day... For my entire trip what stood out the most was the good nature of people of Cuba. They have very little, but somehow through exchange and invention they get by and keep on dancing, smiling and making music. Young people are into hip hop, rock, house, reggae and almost everything we can hear in our big cosmopolitan cities, but their roots are still strong with rumba, timba and salsa music."

 Continue reading the whole story in the BLAG book 'Art'

Photo: José Parlá's Studio, 2006

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