Before language to Hemmingway, from the ancient Sumerians to the Greeks to the modern day, there was the sport of boxing. With his exhibit 50 Grand, Chicago-based artist Carlos Rolón will present a dually charged exploration of boxing and domestic culture, inspired by the tactility and performative qualities of boxing, and its importance, specifically in Puerto Rican and Latin American communities. The third iteration of the exhibit will open May 5, 6-10 p.m. at Tube Factory artspace, The exhibition features a newly commissioned installation and will run through July 22. The exhibit is a nod to Ernest Hemmingway’s 50 Grand, and like the story, explores the relationship between courage and professionalism.
With this exhibit, Rolón continues to mine his childhood memories. He invites the viewer to step into intimate scenes such as his family’s wood-paneled basement, decorated with gold garlands and vintage beer placards, where his father would watch prize fights such as the infamous NO MAS fight between Roberto Durán and Sugar Ray Leonard. Boxing matches such as this where particularly important for Rolon growing up, as it allowed him to sit for short periods of time connecting with his father. Rolon monumentalizes this with a blue-collar trophy den as the setting for his exhibition, creating an homage not only to boxing culture, but also to Puerto Rican immigration to America.
Within the exhibition is a newly commissioned performative installation of live sanctioned Golden Glove fights organized by Indy Boxing and Grappling scheduled May 5, June 2 and July 7, 7-9 p.m. Fighters will wear robes designed by Rolón on each of the three scheduled fights then on display when the ring is inactive.
Within the main gallery is an installation of paintings and sculptural fabric works exuberant with color, texture, patterns, and experiments in surface that create a visual dialogue between the physical charge of boxing, the garments worn by the fighters, and the artist’s own childhood home and upbringing as a first generation immigrant. Occupying the den is a series of custom-made trophies entitled Immigrants/Emigrants (Symbols and Mementos for the Nuyoricans) created, as the artist states “for people like my father and mother who came to the U.S for a better life with dreams and aspirations that never quite materialized, but still achieved success in other aspects of their life.”
Made possible by the Herbert Simon Family Fund, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and Sun King Brewery
Photo: Installation view of Trophy Room, 2016 Exhibition: I Tell You This Sincerely….Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, Illinois
Curated by Nathan Mason
About Carlos Rolón/Dzine (b. 1970, Chicago, IL)
Rolón attended Columbia College Chicago with a concentration in painting and drawing. Rolón has been recognized for his elaborately crafted paintings, ornate sculptures and works that come out of American, Latino and uniquely based subcultures. His studio practice investigates pop culture, craft, ritual, beauty and its relationship to art history, subculture, appropriation and the institution. As a first-generation immigrant of Puerto Rican decent, the artist creates objects questioning the concept of luxury and craft making to explore questions of identity, integration and aspiration. His work also represents a detailed examination of curiosity and the process of art making and the cultures surrounding this. The work often addresses his biography by melding memory and the imaginary with carefully crafted, hybrid works that are playfully situated between the contradictory worlds of conspicuous consumption and urban artifact. The work is at once melancholic, excessive and exuberant, poised somewhere between celebration and regret. Rolón illuminates how the masculine can become delicate and the how the baroque can be minimal. The artist often channels this approach with site-specific installation work, vivid large-scale paintings and ornate sculptures in various materials expanding on ideas of self-reflection and imagined luxury. The works ultimately produce a hybrid language of social practice, painting and sculpture inviting the viewer to engage in discourse and discussion.
Rolón has had solo exhibitions at The Dallas Contemporary, Dallas; Bass Museum of Art, Miami; Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, UK; Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico; and CAM Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis. His work has also been exhibited in group shows at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Marta Herford Museum, Herford, Germany; Museum Het Domein, Sittard, The Netherlands; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; Museo del Barrio, New York and Centro Atlantico de Arte Moderno (CAAM), Canary Islands; Oakland University Art Gallery, Michigan and Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico.
In 2007 Rolón represented Ukraine in the 52nd Venice Biennale. He is a recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation award for Painting and Sculpture. Rolón’s work is included 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; and Pinchuk Art Centre, Kiev, Ukraine, among others.