35th Bienal de São Paulo
6 Set to 10 Dec 2023
Free Admission
35th Bienal de
São Paulo
6 Set to 10 Dec
Exhibition view of the work of Rolando Castellón during the 35th Bienal de São Paulo – choreographies of the impossible © Levi Fanan / Fundação Bienal de São Paulo

Rolando Castellón

“My religion is nature and the museum is my church,” declares artist Rolando Castellón, one of the great references of art in Central America. Born in Nicaragua and with strong ties to Costa Rica, Castellón began his artistic life from a memory, that of his aunt Rosa, who used to draw with the tip of a broom on the floor of her house, after sweeping it and soaking it with water. Heir to that gesture, over many years, Rolando Castellón formed his itinerary of rituals and poetics. Mud and every discarded inert object or living substance, of vegetable or animal origin, became his raw material. Walks on the beach or in the city, his acute observation, the collection of objects and undervalued elements taken to his studio, the effects of the climate, abandonment, darkness, the presence of vermin and the cycles of plants are the dynamics that he uses to shape performance strategies.

Given the impossibility of reducing his work to a single project, Rolando Castellón’s presence in this edition of the Bienal de São Paulo consists of a selection – or rather an inventory – of works. In the exhibition space are deposited only fragments of an extraordinary universe, which includes what he calls “found objects” as well as drawings made with mud, images, and compositions where the accidental prevails. But the whole is not something simple or merely naturalistic. Embedded in all of Castellón’s work are the irony and paradoxes of possible dialogues between industrial cultures and nature, pre-Columbian and post-Columbian history and contemporaneity. This corpus of multiple works also identifies an artistic production who has woven a work ethic based on the peculiarity of materials, their visual harmony, their conceptual power and respect for the physical and natural context. As a keen observer of the micro, Rolando Castellón explores the plasticity and visual harmony of dry leaves, insect corpses, seeds or thorns, to reintroduce them into a symbolic and ritualistic regime.

rossina cazali
translated from Spanish by ana laura borro

Rolando Castellón (Manágua, Nicarágua, 1937. Lives in Costa Rica) is an artist, curator, editor, manager, collector, and draftsman with hoarding tendencies. He was the curator of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, United States (1972-1981), and the Museo de Arte y Diseño Contemporáneo de Costa Rica (1994-1998). He has also earned the title of “maestro.”