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Meet Carlos Rolón/Dzine

Today we’d like to introduce you to Carlos Rolón/Dzine.

Carlos, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Born and raised in Chicago, where I still live and work. Attended Columbia College Chicago with a concentration in painting and drawing. As a first-generation immigrant from a Puerto Rican family, music and themes of domesticity and identity where instilled at an early age. Early creative influences came from the New York East Village Punk seen, Hip Hop to Disco, CBGB’s, Mudd Club, etc. Books like Art After Midnight by Steven Hager reading about artists like John Fekner, Jean Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, The Clash, Jenny Holzer and Eva Hesse. Gallerists like Tony Shafrazi, Annina Nosei and curators Achille Bonito Oliva and Richard D. Marshall.

I began making paintings in my early twenties. My travels to Europe in the early 1990s eventually led the artist me to Paris’s underground music and fashion worlds at the artist space Hôpital éphémère. A project for the now defunct French record label Yellow Productions brought the me to Japan, where I was introduced to Masami Shiraishi. The owner and director of Scai the Bathhouse, a contemporary art gallery known for introducing the likes of Takashi Murakami and Yoshitomo Nara as well as Japan’s avant-garde artists to the world. He was also a catalyst for bringing artists from abroad to establish a presence in Japan. He immediately offered me a solo exhibition, which sold out before the opening.

In 2007 Jeffrey Deitch, owner of Deitch Projects, took note of my work at the 52nd Venice Biennale and me a solo exhibition and representation. I’ve held solo exhibitions at The Dallas Contemporary, Dallas; Bass Museum of Art, Miami; Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, UK; Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico; and CAM Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis. His work has also been exhibited in group shows at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Marta Herford Museum, Herford, Germany; Museum Het Domein, Sittard, The Netherlands; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; Museo del Barrio, New York and Centro Atlantico de Arte Moderno (CAAM), Canary Islands; Oakland University Art Gallery, Michigan and Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I come from a blue collar family. My parents never took me to galleries or museums.

I had to learn about the artword on my own and the hard work, dedication of making great work that comes along with it. Trying to get a foot in the upper echelon of the art world is real – the hustle is real. It’s no secret the artworld has lacked in gender and racial diversity. White male artists dominate the commercial art world for the most part.

It is rare to see a large museum feature a woman or person of color in a solo exhibition. But with so many of artists (mainly African American) making such great, strong work dealing with identity, the tide seems to be shifting. However, Latinos are still not getting due credit.

I discovered art on my own at a very young age. Obviously, I’ve always loved the great architecture here, but I have especially always loved the intimacy of Chicago neighborhoods and its side-street bungalows. No other major American city can claim those. Artistically, I was immediately drawn to the Chicago Imagists. Ed Paschke was a major influence on me. I remember calling him personally at the age of 18 to try to get an internship with him—I was willing to sweep his floors and do whatever it took to be close to his artistic energy. Obviously, I’m now surrounded by my contemporaries here in Chicago like Dawoud Bey, Anne Weins, Candida Alvarez, Nick Cave, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle and Theaster Gates. Some friends who I grew up with in artistic circles that have left like Laura Mosquera, Rashid Johnson, Angel Otero and Robert Davis are doing great things and we have a somewhat an unspoken circle of support. Were all very much still friends and very much supportive of each other.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with your artwork – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Being an artist. I am my own investment. I have assistants, so I run a business. What I create is very personal. I try to challenge myself creatively and to take risks with a unique language.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I try to embrace the present moment. However, working toward ways that reflect my personal desires and how I want that future to be realized is something I work daily on.

The present moment is to make sure my family is healthy, secure and create honest work in my studio that will be relevant years from now. Eventually when my kids leave the house. I would like to set up a studio in Puerto Rico for the winter months and work both in Chicago and Puerto Rico.


  • My new print editions range from $1200 – $2500
  • My paintings and sculptures range from $10,000 – $80,000 USD

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Portrait Photo Credit: Lyndon French
Artwork Photo Credit: Courtesy the artist, Kate Gownman; Nathan Keay; Leeahn Gallery, South Korea; Salon 94

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. joe smith

    September 14, 2017 at 2:53 am

    great interview and fantastic photos

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