The new show might be seen as a continuation of his earlier work, and a meditation on the themes closest to his heart. Over the past few years, Rolón has released two books detailing projects that drew from the familial traditions and culture that surrounds him. Nailed: The History of Nail Culture and Dzine
chronicles his celebrated traveling installation Imperial Nails,
which explored nail art, beauty rituals, and what Rolón calls “faux luxury” as an homage to his mother. Boxed: The Visual History and the Art of Boxing
was a love letter to his father and illustrated an installation that recreated his childhood basement. “Sports have always played an important role in Latino culture,” Rolón has said
, “especially in Puerto Rico and Cuba.”
The mirror paintings are a natural extension of Rolón’s impressive body of work, for which he’s already earned a Joan Mitchell Award for Painting and Sculpture and an award from the National Endowment of the Arts. Like the projects dedicated to Rolón’s parents and their legacy, these pieces are investigatory, raising questions about the boundaries between working class and upper class, aesthetic beauty and functionality, femininity and masculinity, the public and private sphere. Once you’ve appreciated their delicate beauty, the mirror paintings challenge the viewer to contemplate the structure of security: about who is being protected from whom—and why.