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By: Artishock

Born in Venezuela in 1942, Rolando Peña, a.k.a El Príncipe Negro, contributed to the definition of contemporary Latin American art in the 1960s and the 1970s, when living in New York. An artist who delves in various art media, Peña also made creative use of photomaton photography early in his career. A Matter of Perspective is his first exhibition at Artmedia Gallery in Miami, which focuses in that period still in force until today.

Artmedia Gallery presents Rolando Peña‘s A Matter of Perspective, an exhibition centered on a segment of the artist’s varied artistic production from the first decades of his trajectory, the 60s and 70s of the XX century. Contemporary works related to the early ones accompany them to extend their concepts and possibilities as ongoing work in progress.

The show focuses on performance art as the practice that crosses and mixes with other Peña’s art practices, including his use of photographs. It is worth noting that this exhibition displays only one way of approaching a long career characterized by imaginative inquiries and many achievements. With his sixty years of artistic activity behind him, Rolando Peña continues to be a contemporary artist whose early production arouses questions that interest and affect current viewers.

The exhibition groups different works based on exploring two resources of human representation: by one hand, the photographic portrait using the photomaton; and, by the other hand, the mirror as a device of reproduction of the self. The exhibition’s departing point is the series Photomatons, developed by Peña from 1960 to 1969 but taken up later occasionally until the present.

“One day I was walking in the center of Caracas, in El Silencio, and I saw a sort of cubicle which I could get inside, add some coins, and take a picture -another great discovery in my life, and the beginning of the series of Photomatons”, recalls the artist.

The self or duo Peña’s photomaton portraits were also incorporated by the artist to the illustrations of Hans Vredeman de Vries’s book Perspective, from 1605, in the series of photo-collages titled The Seven Vanishing Points, dated 1979. The Seven Vanishing Points is also the title of a performance of the same year where the artist broke several mirrors -an action related to the exhibition of the collages mentioned above.

Furthermore, broken mirrors are the components of Behind my Eyes, a polyptych dated 2021 that proposes an interpretation of the performance we commented on before. As we can see, Peña’s proposal is connected to another in a chain that has, as a first commitment, the exploration of the self from different points of view -art history, cultural traditions, social contexts, psychological stances, and feelings.

“My first Photomaton is from 1960, a forerunner artwork within contemporary art, and it is something I keep working on to this day. Some years later, it occurred to me to mix a series of Photomatons as collages in dialogue with images of perspectives. That is how The Seven Vanishing Points emerged. The idea of using photography in my works, like mirrors, has been a leitmotif in all my work”, Peña says.


Curated by José Antonio Navarrete

Artmedia Gallery, 350 NE 75th Street, Unit # 103-2, Miami, FL

November 23, 2021 – February 11, 2022