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Carlos Rolón (b. 1970, Chicago) is a Chicago-based artist internationally recognized for his elaborately crafted paintings, sculptures and installations that examine ideas surrounding craft, ritual, beauty, spirituality, identity and their relationship to art history and the institution.

Rolón, also known as Dzine (pronounced design), grew up in one of the few Puerto Rican families on the Southwest Side of Chicago. His multidisciplinary and socially engaged practice is informed by a post-colonial and Afro-Caribbean diasporic point of view and he often draws on childhood memories and early influences, from boxing to 1980s hip-hop culture. Fusing elements of biography and memory with imagery rich in symbolism, Rolón creates a distinct visual language that bridges the divide between public and private and provides openings for self-reflection and community engagement.

This multifaceted approach is especially evident in the artist’s diverse reference points and unique choice of materials. Rolón utilizes porcelain, crystals, cement tile, macramé, vintage jewelry and precious metals to explore the aesthetics of American middle-class lifestyles, especially those of the Latinx community. He often recontextualizes cultural artifacts from his youth and exhibits them in fine-art environments, such as an iconic 1980s boom box cast in fiberglass and gilded in 24-karat gold, presented at Sotheby’s in 2022.

In 2016, he produced an immersive site-specific installation invoking aspects of his childhood experience. Staged within Mike Kelley’s Mobile Homestead at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Rolón created a series of retro rooms outfitted with 1970s-inspired wallpaper, shag carpeting and craft-based works, including handmade macramé sculpture. The installation also featured a pop-up nail salon—an homage to his mother’s at-home business—that engaged visitors throughout the exhibition’s three-month run. Nail art, a recurring theme in Rolón’s work, has been the subject of several exhibitions, including a solo show at the New Museum in New York in 2011 and a lavishly illustrated art book, Dzine: Nailed, published by Damiani/Standard Press in 2012.

Rolón’s distinctive blend of personal narrative and themes of cultural identity, class and commerce are also evident in his series of opulent large-scale paintings depicting lush, tropical flowers on a backdrop of gold leaf. These expressive canvases recall the floral wallpaper in his parents’ home while alluding to the destruction of Puerto Rico’s natural vegetation when the Spanish ravaged the land for gold in the late fifteenth century.

For the 2018 exhibition Lost in Paradise at the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens in Jacksonville, Florida, Rolón highlighted the effects of industrialization and catastrophic weather events on the architecture and natural landscapes shared by Florida and Puerto Rico. The exhibition presented sculptural paintings made from fragments of losa isleño (island tile), a decorative cement tile inspired by the intricate patterns found in traditional Hispano-Moresque ceramics and commonly used in Puerto Rican homes. Rolón, however, deviates from the customary patterns, reconfiguring the tile fragments in unexpected ways—a reference to the power of nature to alter its own landscape and humanity’s enduring ability to rebuild.  
 Rolón’s work has been exhibited widely since 2002, including at Dallas Contemporary; The Bass Museum of Art, Miami; Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, United Kingdom; Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, San Juan; Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico; New Orleans Museum of Art; and CAM Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Missouri. In 2007, he was one of four non-Ukrainian artists invited to represent Ukraine in the 52nd Venice Biennale.

Rolón’s work is in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum and El Museo del Barrio, New York; City of Chicago Public Art Collection; The Bass Museum of Art, Miami; Deagu Art Museum, Korea; Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico; Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, San Juan; Museum Het Domein, Sittard, Netherlands; Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego; Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, Kansas; and Pinchuk Art Centre, Kyiv, Ukraine, among others. Carlos Rolón is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Award and Joan Mitchell Foundation Award for Painting and Sculpture. 


Carlos Rolón lives and works in Chicago.