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Island artists presenting works at 19th Asian Art Biennale in Bangladesh


“Libertad” by Antonio Cortés Rolón

By The Star Staff


The island’s visual arts community has begun 2022 on a positive note. Puerto Rico has been invited for the first time to participate in the 19th Asian Art Biennale in Bangladesh, which has been rescheduled to take place this month.


Four Puerto Rican artists are presenting their works at the Biennale, considered one of the most important visual arts events in Asia. The opening of the 19th Biennale to the public will be confirmed this year because it may be impacted by the COVID pandemic.


The participating artists from Puerto Rico are Nayda Collazo Llorens, Abdías Méndez Robles, Antonio Cortés Rolón and Edwin Mauras Modesti, who presented their proposals in response to the Biennale theme “Home and Displacement,” according to a statement.


In this 19th edition of the Biennale, Margarita Chacón, an artist from Mexico, was appointed joint commissioner for the Americas Region. She advocated for the presence and international recognition of Puerto Rico among Latin American artists. Méndez Robles, a leading visual artist from Puerto Rico, was invited to collaborate in recommending the artists.


Regarding the participation of Puerto Rico and Latin American countries in the Biennale, Chacón said “it is an honor and great challenge to be part of the Joint Commissioner’s team at the 19th Biennale of Asian Art in Bangladesh.”


“We have great artists in Latin America and the Caribbean, and this has been the challenge, selecting only four artists per country,” she said.


Due to its aesthetic quality, the Pavilion of the Americas will bring together a selection of contemporary artists from the region under one roof, where their works will coexist with each other, establishing a dialogue on the theme of “Home and Displacement.”


“Being able to participate for the first time in our Puerto Rican character and identity in this international space will open doors and recognition for other artists in the region,” Méndez Robles said. “In this edition, Latin America will be able to communicate the work of our artists and Puerto Rico is present.”


Nayda Collazo Llorens is presenting a single-channel HD video, lasting 3:09 minutes, made in 2019. As the artist explains, the silent video incorporates sample and found text dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico after it devastated the island in 2017. “Fleeting words and phrases create a non-linear narrative that explores the transient nature of thoughts and feelings, memory within the context of a generalized colonial system,” she said.


Abdías Méndez Robles participates with the selected work “Isla de los Muertos -- Isla de la Vida” [Isle of the Dead -- Island of Life]. The iconic work in the artist’s proposal is an oil on canvas in 42” x 60” format from 2011. The artist says about his work that “humans travel from one place to another, sometimes we find opportunities and a new life, sometimes pain and death. For different reasons we flow from one space to another, each new space we occupy is ‘our space-island,’ which can become the place where we are born or where we will die. That space will be our home, our space-island, where we will live or die.”


Antonio Cortés Rolón presents the work “Libertad” [Freedom], a piece that represents the artist’s proposal on emigration. It is an acrylic on canvas in 48” x 48” format from 2015. Cortés said “Puerto Rico is known for its long history of refugees migrating to the island from neighboring coasts, such as Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Some of these people face forced uprooting from their homes. In search of better opportunities, they flee their homes and communities, while staying close to the borders of their native lands.”


Edwin Mauras Modesti will exhibit the work “Homenaje a la Patria II” a tribute to his homeland, worked in 2019 in acrylic on canvas, with measurements of 48” x 48”. About the work the artist has said that in the summer of 2019 he began a series of paintings and drawings in tribute to his homeland Puerto Rico. “Homenaje a la Patria II” is an acrylic on cotton canvas in the “Hard Edge” technique, which he used during the 1970s. Being in this painting, as the center of his universe, is the star of the Puerto Rican flag.

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