Galería Odalys, Madrid, Spain
July 28 – September 3, 2015


"A fragmentary inquiry about some pioneers of Venezuelan conceptual art"
– Fernando Castro Flórez


Rolando Peña (The Black Prince), confesses he's a serious fool. Pioneer of "Pop Art" in Venezuela, this artist received influences from artists like Andy Warhol. The exhibition shows two of his works: "Photomaton" and "Santería."


The fisherman offering a lift to The Black Prince, 1975
Don Simón Bolívar having a good time, 1975
Virtual Pyramid
Las 7 Potencias Africanas, 1975

In 1975, Rolando Peña first exhibited his collage series called "Santería" at the Bogarin Workshop Gallery in New York, and this same multimedia installation was the opening exhibit at the Annex at the Contemporary Art Museum in Caracas.

In "Santería", Rolando Peña seeks to show a multifaceted iconographic discourse that, in its ludic and ironic aspect, raises in these pieces a critical reflection, not exempt from a certain component of fascination and mockery, about society, history, mysticism, cult, and the contemporary media imaginary. Peña explores and overflows the boundaries between the popular and the cultured, the real and the fanciful.

"Santería" series is based on popular beliefs about saints, religion, funeral rites and witchcraft consisting of a group of popular figures of the popular rites and religious beliefs of marked relevance in Venezuela: José Gregorio Hernández, the Black First, Maria Lionza, the Seven Powers , The Virgin of Coromoto, the Last Supper, Simon Bolivar, among others; predominating in some the use of the exalt gold or silver color and in others, as a background, important works of the Renaissance as The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli or La Gioconda (Mona Lisa) by Leonardo Da Vinci.

The speech of these series clearly refers to a vocabulary derived from the languages f pop art: Celestial color, bright colors and flat figures, within which the artist incorporates, even in some cases, his own portrait until using, in some cases, the same techniques of reproduction of the cultural industry used and worked by him with his mentor and friend Andy Warhol.




Coño, Caracas, 1960
No title, NYC, 1965-66
New York Fuck, NYC, 1963
Arrechera Total, Roma, Italia, 1966

In these "Photomaton" series, Peña uses the popular photographic booth (a "modern" photographic kiosk) containing an automated photographic trigger.  They work with coins, the camera and the film processor. Once the payment has been made, the photomontage takes a series of photographs but before each photograph, there is an indication, such as a light or a bell, that signals the pattern to prepare or change your pose.  "Photomatons" were delivered to the client leaving testimony of their personal happenings, private, intimate, making undeniable the strictly pop character of the works he builds with the result of these experiences or performances.

Peña uses deliberately these booths as a tool with the sole purpose of leaving a testimony of their personal happenings, becoming the first contemporary artist using photomatons as art expression. 


Photo by Manuel Herreros

Photo by Manuel Herreros

Photo by Manuel Herreros

Photo by Manuel Herreros