The Western perception of island life in Puerto Rico has always frustrated artist Juan Alberto Negroni.
“In Puerto Rico, if you are in the metropolitan area where I grew up, it feels super heavy, super hectic.
You would think on an island everyone is chilling, wearing flip-flops. It’s not like that.
We’ve been adapting a North American way of living and trying to make it work on an island, and it’s a mess.”
Negroni moved to Dallas from Puerto Rico with his wife two years ago to attend Southern Methodist University for his masters,
after finding an adequate collector base to support artists in his home country. “There’s no money in Puerto Rico.
There’s nothing you can do. We have a few collectors inside Puerto Rico that are pretty consistent.
But since they have money, they are already buying outside the country at auctions.
No one is investing their money in the best of the new generations.” One of the reasons Negroni chose SMU was because of all the schools he applied to, it was the furthest from Puerto Rico.
He also came with a masters in education and a storied Central American exhibition history, but was attracted to the strength of SMU’s program.
He also came with zero expectations on what he could find in higher education, leaving himself open to opportunities.”When I came here, I was practically doing the same thing I was doing in Puerto Rico.
They were very simple abstractions. I was dealing with the island and ‘enclosement.’
When we think of an island, we think of this weird piece of land floating endlessly, on top of the water.”
In a recent group show this past spring, Fresh at Mary Tomas Gallery, with whom he is represented, Negroni’s work explored the kinetic, colorful memories of his home country, while also addressing loneliness, overcrowding, poverty, and lack of personal space home evokes.
“I started rethinking the whole thing. I went back to my basics since my BA is in printmaking. I was paying a lot of attention to Joan Miró’s composition.”
This recent work explores Negroni’s childhood, growing up sharing a room with two brothers.
Growing up in a lower income neighborhood, the house always felt overcrowded, making it difficult to establish privacy, even sanctuary, within his room.
These are memories Negroni based much of the show around. In most of the paintings
from this body of work there is a medium-sized blob, born of black paint and undesirable shape.
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