Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Sofía Imber, Caracas, Venezuela
September 14 – October 5,1975
"Good night, sweet Prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest." – Aquiles Nazoa
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 of 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.
Prayer to the Anima of Rolando Peña
by Aquiles Nazoa
Anima of Rolando Peña, King of the Night and dark Knight of the Stars, who like the ghost of the three figures of the Deck, seven cities saw you pass through your horizons of nightmare, mounted on the horse of the chess, a rotten rose of Dry cleaner in each hand, and on your shoulders the darkness as a layer of appearance. Prince of the accursed smoke; Black Bat Knight of the Night, infuse to our heart the magical power of your magnetized shoes, to whose passage you ignite of golden shards your solitary route by the constellations of the Venezuelan sky.
Because when you lived on earth you invented for your friends an elevator to climb the stars (when we all believed that it was inevitable to go down the stairs); because for the dead who have no one to cry you established in New York a famous factory of fake mourners; because without any surcharge on the price you give every day to your widow's heart home, now that we see you come back with your charcoal shirt and your head touched with the hat of the night, I put for the rest of your soul this lighted cocuyo on the palm of your hand. Illuminate with him - and guide him - the miraculous opener with which we will have - inconceivable act of mystical violence - to replace the Holy Keys that we tire of asking and never come to us, so that the patient Jose Gregorio Hernandez will not remain standing there with his Hands behind, as if he were playing pare or none at the gates of Glory that did not just open for him.
By the favor I ask you seven candles I will light you, one for each diamond of the six with which your shoes are spiked, and another so that in the hour of your fatigues in the Purgatory, you will light it in the glass of wine that will serve you there with your banquet of flowers.
Black Prince, seven times as black as your companion of glory, Sergeant Philip; Rolando Peña Cumbá-Cumbá that you threw with your beard the dark skies of the Greco; Prince of the pants on the negative, who voluntarily gave up your lavish principality among the dazzling luminaries of Times Square, to humbly exemplify you to the mournful Court of King Zamuro, where you sit at the right hand of Maria Lionza.
Your office is in that Escorial of the Mystery, to steal every night, on the shoulder an infallible broom broom, to restore the spiritual image of Venezuela, transfigured by your delicate offices in powder stars and buttermilk. Thank you, Rolando, for the favor received.
(He kisses the image of the zamuro stone in the ring and says the following magic words:)
Good night, sweet Prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.
Santería Exhibition Opening and Reception
Santería Exhibition Opening and Reception. Simón Díaz, Rolando Peña, Sofía Imber, Aquiles Nazoa and Zapata. Photo by Pascual de Leo
Museum of Contemporary Art Sofía Imber