Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, United States
September 15 – November 13, 2016


 Diversity of narrations over a persistent interest and exploration of the endless matter of oil.

By Jorge Gutierrez (Museologist/Curator)


Rolando Peña

“Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness.”
– Allen Ginsberg


The narrative of the artistic work of Rolando Peña, always aims to include social, cultural and historical collective references of unmapped trajectories of the contexts that surrounds him, related, as connected experiences with other parts of the world. A visual and performative metaphor on selected contemporary issues, where he has made no concessions in more than half a century of artistic work, exhibitions and projects. His acute, refined and cultivated oeuvre body of work is organized in particular stages always combining different media as a multimedia artist involved in theatre, dance, and computer technology.

Photo by Pedro Avendaño

Photo by Pedro Avendaño

Performance, installations, video and fine arts. As his latest artistic proposal, Black Gold becomes another essential step in the sequential journey of Peña’s creative work. Transforming the gallery space into a territory of interaction, through videos, fixed images and three–dimensional work that takes over the exhibition space. Black Gold performs its function in the context of knowledge. Presenting an artist, who considers the universe (whether local or global), from a range of differing scientific, philosophical, and artistic positions integrated into one proposal.

The powerfully Gold and Oil are central speculation and investment commodities in the current world of economic, political and power interrelationships. Essential dominant tools in a 21st century that initiated in a context of multiple crises, matched with unsettled tensions that exist between diverging belief systems. Black Gold becomes the artist’s system of questions and possible answers, an opportunity of equilibrium in a disengaged and fluent world, an admixture of hybrid and interstitial culture. Gold and Oil have emerged stronger in the accelerated process of globalization and information that has moved us from modernism to contemporaneity.

Drastically reshaping a world where we seem to have more questions than answers. In Black Gold, the artist presents his visual strategy, his metaphor on an element encrypted in the DNA of our society, oil. Concerned and observant with the shifts in the geopolitical order, changes brought on by the digital revolution, shifting science paradigms and changing contemporary visual expression trends.

As Andy Warhol chose a social consumption object that everybody recognized such as the Campbell’s Soup, becoming an icon of Pop Art, or as did Nobel Prize Leon Lederman in physics, naming the “Particle of God” to relate to the subatomic particle called the Higgs Boson, responsible for giving matter different properties. Peña creates a global symbol, with no language barrier, universal and essential component of our current lives on earth. As Robert Ebel of the Center for Strategic and International Studies states; “Far more than an ordinary trade commodity, (crude oil) it is a determinant of well–being, of national security, and international power for those who possess this vital resource and the converse for those who do not.”

Every artistic reaction can disembark from the cosmos of concept, abide a dominion in which theory and imagination are indivisibly combined, and simultaneously engage a given situation the elements of which are and encompass reciprocal entities released from their physical and perceptible nature. That is the case of the artistic work of Rolando Peña, where an interpretation of reality and human thought is conceived as energy in its certain, becoming the essence of artist Rolando Peña’s vivid itinerary.

He is a citizen of the world with a contemporary narrative in which his unique compositional system; conceptual, dense, collected free, autobiographical, sustained by an ordered structure of dialectic forces, his works create a demeanor of infinity, but most of all, maturing a feeling of enchantment and discovery in the soul and minds of the spectator. (Weather his oil referential work, his visual diaries or performances).

Peña’s art–science “laboratory” a sort of cosmic blueprint, is predisposed to recall the sharpness of the imprint at the moment in which it appears as a significant value. Reaching diversity as an aesthetic equation of art–science–technology, expressed between appearance and disappearance. What cultural theorist Jean Baudrillard would define as an “an intermittent wink” of sensations, images, transformed spaces, and perceptions that unceasingly beam “energy exchanges” within the Black Gold exhibition components.

Paradoxically, is the significant gain that has granted the artistic practice to retain in a more direct way of reality, history, memory, and all those references that dictate existence in and ahead art.

Within this context, the work of Rolando Peña is essential to understand the transition from late modernism to contemporaneity in Latin American art. As result of his profound research and relevant process, given Peña’s art radical pluralism. His multiple cutting–edge approaches to the art experience since the 1960’s (conceptually up front, diverse and a combined use of different media ) seen under the traditional methodologies of art history might have made difficult to apprehend his essential contribution in the jump forward from modernism to contemporaneity in Venezuela. Increasingly recognized as a prominent figure in the art world.

His work must be seen as that of an artist of anticipation, of risk and creative liberty, beyond art market trends and fashion phenomenon imposed by washed critics and curators. A Venezuelan, whose conceptual approach and body of work are authentically global. Like; Marcel Duchamp, Cildo Meireles, Joseph Buys, Felix Gonzalez≠Torres, Joseph Kosuth, Subodh Gupta, Eugenio Dittborn, Jo Ractliffe, Walter De Maria, On Kawara, and Jenny Holzer among many others. Rolando Peña is part of a daring group of artists always contributing to pushing art to the cutting≠edge, pointedly expressing cultural values of society as a whole.

Emerged from peripheral Latin American and immersed in North America and Europe in an ongoing transversal journey, it can be applied to Rolando Peña what anthropologist Rubem César Fernandes delineates as “polyglots of sociability”. And Dr. George Yudice, Professor of Latin American Studies, at the University of Miami defines, regarding this term as; “Experts in working with the “fluid language of values,” developing the “art of translation” of those values, “beyond cosmopolitan circuits.”

Where rights and other conceptual categories can be too abstract. Communication is the medium for this cultural activism, by which they develop the ability to bring the “individualistic language of rights” into contact with “other principles that regulate social life.” Rolando Peña, "The Black Prince" becomes a sorcerer through conceptualism between the centre–periphery spatial metaphors of art.

Interpreting the local spaces as equals into dialogues with global territories. Black Gold is not only a re≠appropriation of the exhibition space, but also a reflection of how we can end up praising and cursing oil as an essential product of nature, with its turns in the happiness and sorrow of our societies. Peña takes over the space with symbols and forms, within these, are the conjunction of messages and questions we are to unveil.

Black Gold is another step into contemporaneity in his artistic journey of more than 50 years of continuous work, plurality of narratives and of countless artistic responses. Cheers Principe Negro…