Artist spotlight: Carlos Rolón
Born to a Puerto-Rican family, Rolón’s “between cultures” background allows the artist to explore personal ideas which directly deal with questions of inclusion, aspiration and cultural identity. Often connecting childhood memories, the artist bore witness to the ways in which households have adapted to new American middle-class lifestyles with homes, walls and furniture adorned with ephemera of color, texture, patterns and items brought into the home to create a sense of longing.
Rolón contributed his limited edition print Untitled (Caribbean Azulejo) to AoQ, a spiritually exuberant and beautiful artwork that brings a discourse of an exploration of displacement, diaspora, colonization and change.
Carlos Rolón, Untitled (Caribbean Azulejo), Print, 2019 // $400
The juxtaposed images of Caribbean flora and Azulejo tile - which stem from Arabic roots - represent cultivation and craft-making and serve as a metaphor for beauty, class, race and landscape. The piece presents a lavish and melancholic visual hybrid language about history, culture and architecture.
Each sale of Rolón's print supports project Project Backboard, a nonprofit that refurbishes run-down basketball courts, primarily in urban neighborhoods across the United States, by covering them with art.
Theaster Gates, an internationally acclaimed artist and professor, says the following of Rolón's work: "Carlos brings us to attention and focus – a lightning rod to the true art in this cruel world. Channeling ordinary materials into intricate constructions, he seeks hope and abundance in overlooked cultures, in the carts, the nail salons, in the everyday hustle."
Rolón creates a hybrid language of exuberant flora paintings, sculpture, social practice and site-specific installations composed of diverse materials that offer opportunities for self-reflection, rich symbolism and community engagement, bridging the divide between public and private. Rolón explores how cultivated settings and social barriers operate and its relationship to postcolonial spaces.
Carlos Rolón in an interview with CultureHub magazine:
There’s an immediate connection I’m able to make with the viewer. Once that viewer connects with the work, and they begin to investigate, they find out there's an underlying story. I’m really proud of the fact I can make work that is personal but able to cross over to a pop-culture level.
This year Carlos Rolón’s studio has begun the production on a new installation for the Chicago Architectural Biennial program. Rolon was invited by Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority in partnership with Architecture Biennale to transform the facade of the Energy Center with the images of Azulejo tile work.
Carlos Rolón’s artworks are in the following public collections: Bass Museum of Art, Miami; Brooklyn Museum, New York; City of Chicago Public Art Collection; Deagu Art Museum, Deagu; Museo del Barrio, New York; Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico; Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, San Juan; Museum Het Domein, Sittard, The Netherlands; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City; New Orleans Museum of Art and Pinchuk Art Centre, Kiev, Ukraine, among others.