Carlos Rolón Born, Carlos Rolón
Shattered mirror paintings, lustrous mosaic monochromes where cut glass shapes are tiled with glitter, crystal, and rhinestone resin caulking—think costume jewelry, nail art, disco and diamonds meeting the architecture of high-rise Caribbean office buildings, Copacabana boardwalks and Gaudi facades.
Salon 94, in collaboration with Paul Kasmin Gallery, is delighted to present Born, Carlos Rolon, 1970, an eponymous exhibition by Dzine in the Bowery gallery. The show is a development of the artist’s deep engagement with the culture of self-fashioning and customization, or Kustom Kulture, and his dual identity as both American and Puerto Rican.
The show presents shattered mirror paintings, lustrous mosaic monochromes where cut glass shapes are tiled with glitter, crystal, and rhinestone resin caulking—think costume jewelry, nail art, disco and diamonds meeting the architecture of high-rise Caribbean office buildings, Copacabana boardwalks and Gaudi facades. The mirrors encircle a preserved coconut palm tree installed as the gallery’s centerpiece. Ornamented and lit up like a festive Christmas tree, the palm performs both decoration and conservation, and speaks to the diaspora, as well as DIY adornment as it’s found on the streets of San Juan. A souped-up bicycle fitted with commercial audio speakers will be parked in the gallery blaring an assorted playlist of traditional salsa, merengue and folk music.
Mirrors are frequently found inside modest, cinderblock and corrugated metal Puerto Rican households, giving the illusion of larger and grander living spaces. The ornate patterns of Rolon’s mirrors reference the designs of gates, windows, and security fences around the island, emphasizing the relationship between decoration and protection in the home. Considering elevated relationships to objects through the lens of mirage and escapism, Rolon also situates the relationships of private/public, interior/exterior within these surfaces, where they exist like a fence or a window in between the two, defining both. There is the additional personalized property of the glass—that within these paintings there is always individualized image and the “selfie.” Large scale, obsessively detailed, and neo-baroque, the mirror paintings expand on ideas of self-reflection and imagined luxury.
As the paintings identify and explore the interior of the home, so the palm tree and the speaker bike echo the sights and sounds of the city streets. The bicycle is a customized Schwinn matching the ones the artist was surrounded by on his summer trips to Puerto Rico. The commercial audio system outweighing its framework is the type reserved for vehicles that were normally parked on corner Puerto Rican barrio-pueblos and in passing cars on the south side of Chicago. Taken together, these objects account for a loud and remarkable celebration of dual identities, co-mingling and reflecting one another.
Paul Kasmin Gallery will present a simultaneous solo exhibition at the 515 West 27th Street location. The presentation mines the archives of boxing as it relates to the Latin American diaspora, to domestic conventions and to the sport’s performative and ritualistic nature. The artist invites viewers to step into the recreated wood-paneled den of his childhood home, decorated with gold garlands, vintage beer placards and school trophies, where his father would watch prize fights like Roberto Duran VS. Sugar Ray Leonard. Rolon monumentalizes this blue-collar space for home entertainment as an installation to be carefully considered. Complementing the domestic interior are paintings and sculptural fabric works in the artist’s signature punk/funk/psychedelic style, exuberant with color, texture, pattern and material.
In conjunction with the exhibition, the artist will release BOXED: A Visual History of the Art of Boxing, published by Damiani, Paul Kasmin Gallery, and Salon 94. BOXED is a visual presentation of how the sport of boxing has been a resonant subject for artists, craftsmen and documentarians. Rolon considers BOXED a love letter to his father, in the vein of his previous publication that was a tribute to his mother, NAILED and traveling installation Imperial Nail Salon (an exact reproduction of his childhood living room). A selection of artists included in BOXED are Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jules de Balincourt, Keith Haring, Jeff Koons, Glenn Ligon, Yoshitomo Nara, Claes Oldenburg, Ed Paschke, Paul Pfeiffer, Ed Ruscha, Ushio Shinohara, Gary Simmons, Ken Solomon, Sam Taylor-Wood, Jeff Wall, Andy Warhol and Christopher Wool, and, with a foreword by Franklin Sirmans.
This is the artist’s second exhibition at Salon 94. Carlos Rolon / Dzine has exhibited his work widely since his first show in 2002 at the MCA Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. His work is included in the public collections of the Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York; the Collection Vanmoerkerke, Oostende, Belgium; the Nerman Museum of Art, Kansas City; the Pinchuk Art Centre, Kiev, Ukraine; the Museo del Barrio, New York; Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico and the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego. In 2013, Rolon was the subject of a one-person exhibition at the Dallas Contemporary, and included in Homebodies, curated by Naomi Beckwith, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and In God We Trust, curated by Maria Brewinska, Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, Poland.