Rolando Castellon (1937- ) “Arbol Centenario III (Ancient Tree)”, charcoal/acrylic, 13 x 17 inches, c. 1971.
Rolando Castellon was born in Managua, Nicaragua and came to the United States in 1956, at the age of 19. He studied advertising at San Francisco City College and began making art in 1965. Castellon’s first major exhibition of his own work was in Costa Rica in 1971, at the first biennial of paintings in Central America (“Bienal de Pintura Centroamericana, San José, Costa Rica”). Castellon won the award for Nicaragua.
Castellon has been active as a curator and arts programer. Notably, in 1970 he was one of the founders of Galeria de la Raza in San Francisco, a non-profit community-based arts organization whose mission is to foster public awareness and appreciation of Chicano/Latino art. He worked at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art from 1972-1981 as a curator and from 1982-1992, Castellon served as director of the Mary Porter Sesnon Art Gallery, University of California, Santa Cruz. Since 1993 Castellon has lived in San Jose, Costa Rica, where from 1994-1998, he served as chief curator at the Museum of Art and Design, San José, Costa Rica, Central America.
Castellon has had numerous solo and group exhibitions of his art. Most notably he represented Nicaragua at both the 54th Venice Biennale (2011) and at the 10th Central American Biennial (2016) held in Costa Rica. He has also exhibited his work in galleries in the United States including Don Soker Gallery, San Francisco, CA (1999); Betty Rymer Gallery, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, IL (1997); SPACE, Los Angeles, CA (1994); Meridian Gallery, San Francisco, CA (1990); Hank Baum Gallery, San Francisco, CA (1983); Drawing Center, New York City (1993); Pro-Arts, Oakland, CA (1991); Wight Gallery, UCLA Department of Art, Los Angeles (1989); and the Minnesota Museum of American Art, St. Paul, MN (1973)
This piece illustrates the power of close perspective to communicate a sense of mystery and authority from scenery as common as foliage. The blend of acrylic paint and charcoal is effective in creating a dimensionalized texture of natural light amongst the density of leaves.
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