a region in the mind: terrenos y cuentos
G. Rosa-Rey





Hidrante is pleased to present, a region in the mind: terrenos y cuentos, a solo exhibition by G. Rosa-Rey, from February 16th to April 8th.

G. Rosa-Rey (b. 1955, Isabela, PR) is a Brooklyn, N.Y. based visual artist. Her work invokes texture, gestural markings and grids to reference place. Conceptually, Rosa’s use of materials are informed by the Puerto Rican diasporic consciousness in the wake of Operation Bootstrap, and guided by her experiences growing up and living in the United States.

Born in Isabela, Puerto Rico, Rosa-Rey and her family moved to Hartford, Connecticut in the late 1950s during the Great Puerto Rican migration to the States. In the early 1970s she relocated to New York City to study fine art as an undergraduate at Pratt Institute, and continued her graduate studies in the same field at Columbia University. Through the 1980s to early 2000s, Rosa-Rey’s creative pursuits expanded to include flamenco dance. She returned to her painting practice, feeling that she had developed a sense of clarity regarding personal history and political events that informed her trajectory.

“The political is in the work. I know it’s in there, because I put it in there.”- Jack Whitten

“A Region in the Mind” derives its title from James Baldwin’s Essay “Letter from a Region in my Mind”, where Baldwin draws from personal and systemic experience to examine himself and the power structure in the United States. Yet Rosa-Rey’s “A Region in the Mind” is slightly different– her paintings and drawings evoke internal terrains of consciousness, etching a metaphor for an intimate pulsation of knowing. Informed by historical sources and memories, these story-terrains evoke an imaginary elsewhere not bound by territory or geography– an in-between place amidst the Caribbean and diaspora, a geography where Rosa-Rey can delink herself from an identitarian value system, and instead embody an opaque margin.

Rosa-Rey spends extended periods of time executing simple yet complex gestures. Using brushes, excavation tools, dental picks, magnifying glasses, and wooden branches, she probes and incises the canvas, creating topographies and geographies that evoke fragmentation and non-linearity– meeting places for memory and history to overlap. She adopted these methodologies from her childhood memories growing up in Hartford, Connecticut, with her mother and eight siblings. Playing with the earth, excavating the ground with branches, scraping what she thought was silver off rocks– these backyard materials and memories resurface today in this body of work as floating images and unanchored terrains, referencing diasporic movement. Her work behaves like an enacted poem, where grief, dreams, and meaning are embedded and emerging from within.

Rosa-Rey’s conflicting relationship with the grid can be traced throughout the body of work presented in this exhibition. The grid is a structure she uses to envision space, yet she’s aware that the gridded envisioning of space was both a tool and a product of colonization. Instead of avoiding conflicts and contradictions, she incises the grid with an X-ACTO blade, carving the lines through the surface of the canvas. For Rosa-Rey, these incisions are an awareness of this grid as a colonial device that partitioned land, set up borders, and forcefully removed generations of families. Clouds, climates, atmospheres, oceans, sand, and earth, overflow the constraints of these incised lines and exist beyond these margins. These simple gestures in her work are elemental and primordial, expressing ideas in their bare bones without seductive embellishments. Yet if you look deeper, the work draws you into a potential abyss, or “into areas which are not the most comfortable in the world”.1

With this exhibition, her first on the Puerto Rican archipelago, Rosa-Rey traverses a passage within a cycle, where she returns, through her work, to the watery wombs of her birthplace. “A Region in the Mind: Terrenos y Cuentos” can become an offering to her origins— to Puerto Rico—a journey that continues this transoceanic movement across territories and consciousnesses.

Natalia Lassalle-Morillo

*Special Thanks to G.Rosa Rey for her work, her words, and the many conversations that informed this text.

  1. From the Interview “A Region in the Mind: A Conversation with G. Rosa-Rey and Natalia Lassalle-Morillo”, published by the Latinx Project in February 2022.

a region in the mind: terrenos y cuentos, 2023 Exhibition view

a region in the mind: terrenos y cuentos, 2023 Exhibition view

a region in the mind: terrenos y cuentos, 2023 Exhibition view

a region in the mind: terrenos y cuentos, 2023 Exhibition view

a region in the mind: terrenos y cuentos, 2023 Exhibition view

a region in the mind: terrenos y cuentos, 2023 Exhibition view

a region in the mind: terrenos y cuentos, 2023 Exhibition view

On View
Puerto Nuevo