A self-taught artist of Puerto Rican descent, Dzine—born Carlos Rolon—has been making waves with hybrid paintings and customized sculptures referencing his Latino roots for the past 12 years. Based in Chicago, Dzine makes abstract wall works that integrate mirrors, beads, and crystals into their vibrant, layered surfaces, and constructs bejeweled bicycles, boats, cars, and chandeliers that combine video imagery and sounds.
His second solo show at Salon 94 features mosaic pieces made from shards of colored mirror that are bonded by thin lines of sparkling resin-based grout. Recalling the designs of security gates and domestic fences across Puerto Rico, six shimmering mirrored abstractions in the lower gallery reflect a sculpture nearby: a preserved palm tree in a bed of sand decked out with kitschy Christmas lights. Upstairs, there’s a customized vintage Schwinn bicycle decorated with Puerto Rican flags and personal memorabilia that pulls a cart full of stereo equipment with oversize speakers playing salsa, merengue, and folk music.
Over at Paul Kasmin, Dzine lets loose with another story about Puerto Rican culture, and—more specifically—his childhood memories with his father. Having previously paid homage to his mother with an exhibition and book about nail art, Dzine turns his attention to his father’s desire for him to become a boxer. A piece with pink fringe, beads, and sequins mounted on wood addresses famed boxer Héctor “Macho” Camacho’s flamboyance both in and out of the ring, while a sculpture centered on the popular sport of cockfighting (which is legal in Puerto Rico) flaunts two roosters in gold leaf facing off against a colorfully patterned painting.
Other pieces in the show consider glitzy boxing accoutrements, while an installation in the back reconstructs a basement rec room with a TV playing a famous fight during which one of the boxing contenders quits. A display of customized trophies, special-edition liquor bottles, and a framed robe bearing a Star of David—which pays homage to the Jewish diaspora in Puerto Rico—along with an empty lounge chair and a few cans of Budweiser complete the memorial to an immigrant whose dreams were never quite fulfilled. Taking the concept of “Kustom Kulture” that originated with car customization and applying it to his own history and effects, Dzine constructs metaphoric realms that are loaded with warmth and wit.