Carlos Barberena de la Rocha was born in the city of Granada, Nicaragua in 1972, (the same year as the Managua earthquake). He was born into a family of artists, as the son of Myriam de la Rocha Silva (b.1938) and Roberto Barberena Ruiz (1938-1972), who unfortunately died in an accident when Carlos was only six months of age. Myriam was descended from a family of artists, of special note were the great portrait artist of the XIX century, Segundo de la Rocha and Lic. Juan Eligio de la Rocha, who discovered and saved the indigenous traditional oral theatrical work El Güegüense , now a masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity. Roberto was a great lover of art and dedicated his free time to writing poetry, painting with watercolors and playing the guitar.
He had a normal childhood, his interest in art was sparked by watching his older brothers Robert Barberena de la Rocha (b.1961) and Cesar Barberena (b.1962), both great artists, as they entered into the uncertain world of fine arts. However, his interest was interrupted by the dictatorship and the civil war in Nicaragua at this time. Because of these events he left for Costa Rica in 1986 in forced exile. Costa Rica gave him refuge and allowed him to continue his studies. But it was not until 1990 that his true interest for artistic persuits allowed him to revisit his memories. Carlos was self taught in his artistic formation with occasional tutelage from his brother Robert Barberena de la Rocha.
At the end of 1990 he participated in a national competition, Nuevos Valores “Fausto Pacheco (New Values “Fausto Pacheco”) in the Sophia Wanamaker Gallery of the Costa Rican- North American Cultural Center. This exposition allowed his to take his first steps in his artistic career.
In 1992 he participates in the International Arts Festival in San Jose, Costa Rica. In 1993, he visits Nicaragua, after seven years of exile. In 1994 he exhibits his work for the first time with his brothers in a Latin American group exposition, in the Colonnade Gallery at George Washington University in Washington D.C. in the USA.
In 1997 he returns to Nicaragua again, to present his first individual exposition named “Images of Faith and Devotion,” in the Casa de los Tres Mundos (House of the Three Worlds) in the city of Granada. In this exposition he presents a series of images that show us the faithful mirror of our America, lost in the images that many times that many times we overlook and that become habit, but that are present here and now. This is a portrait of dreams in crisis, for those of us that still scream our marginalized and hungered anguish enveloped in the images of faith that are sold to us on the streets and that live with great devotion from cardboard boxes. (From this year on, his splits his time between Nicaragua and Costa Rica).
In 1998 he joined the National Nicaraguan Fine Arts Union Leonel Vanegas (Unión Nicaragüense de Artistas Plásticos Leonel Vanegas) where he continues to hold membership.
In 2000, he causes a great impact with his second individual exposition entitiled “Años de Miedo, ” (“Time of Fear,”). This exposition is presented as a manner of reflection on our bitter national reality, but without limiting itself geographically. It transcends borders without fear to speak what needs to be spoken without calculation nor the interests of any, without limitations of a preconceived ideological normative.
In addition to the display of humanity, Carlos demonstrates the essence of a search for a new language of art and vision for modernity. He uses discarded materials for the consumption of the masses (cardboard boxes, paper bags, doors and window, metals, plastic, etc.). The “object trouvé” in the use of collage and ensemble, presenting non-conventional support, tri-dimensionally enriching the pictoral work, with an eclictic technique and a strong neoexpressionist and vanguard character; in a convulsion of forms that emerge from the silence with a dynamism of force and energy that tormentuosly agitate each other.
This expostition was presented in the Casa de los Tres Mundos in Granada and in the Praxis Gallery in the city of Managua, Nicaragua. The exposition was to be taken through Central America, it’s next showing being in 2001 in the National Gallery at the Costa Rican Center for Science and Culture in San Jose Costa Rica. Unfortunately, the exposition did not continue for lack of government support and funding.
In 2002 he paints the mural “Life” (22 meters by 4 meters) in the Oasis Hostel in the city of Granada, Nicaragua. This year he learns printmaking techniques (dry point, etching and aquatint) with the German artist Wolfgang Hunecke en the Casa de los Tres Mundos, He also presents the exposition “Septiembre 11 (in memoriam)” (September 11 [in memory]”) in the Centro Cultural Paseo de Arte (Art’s Way Cultural Center) in Granada, Nicaragua. In this exposition Barberena exhibits a series of silent characters, who show us the deep unhealed wounds and the scars planted in our memory, faces captured by anguish that reflect the intense pain of experience and fear, no longer left forgotten in their presence, bi-polar beings that shake our souls with the visual impact provoked by the images of the state of the world that the media repeats without tiring. In this manner we attend stupidly to the spectacle of chaos, filling ourselves with consternation and fear.
In 2003 he takes over the Plaza of Independence in Granada with the artists Robert Barberena de la Rocha and Fernando López Gutiérrez in favor of peace and in protest of the Nicaraguan Government’s decision to support the war against Irak. The make three installation pieces, jointly entitled “Ya no ruge la voz del canon, ni se tiñe con sangre de hermanos…” (No longer does the cannon roar, nor is it covered by the blood of our brothers). During the same year he is invited to participate in the V Biennal del caribe in the Dominican Republic with the “Intervened Umbrellas Project” in the Museo del Hombre Dominicano (Museum of the Dominican Man). He participates in the exposition of Comtemporary Art of Nicaragua and Michoacán: Between Tropics, in Michoacán, Mexico.
In 2004 the three brothers (Robert, Cesar and Carlos Barberena) give an exposition for the first time in Nicaragua. The exposition, entitled”3 Artists, 3 Purposes, 3 Brothers, “ was given in the Museum of the Former Convent of San Francisco in Granada, Nicaragua. The exposition was made possible by the Future of Nicaragua Foundation. He gives an individual exposition, “Emerging from the Silence” in the Marco Aurelio Aguilar Mata Room a the CUC in Cartago. Here, with Carlos presents a show that leads us to relate the interiorism of the “i” with his capacity for social perception of the universe framed in the figure of the human being and an exceptional vision for understanding the macro-cosmos: the streets and the person, the individualism and its connections with the physical universe. At the end of the lesson, his concept evokes the egocentrism of a social and materialist being, individualist and suffering.
The same year he is chosen to represent Nicaragua in the XIII Art Salon, in the exposition: Identity Imprint: A Glance at Ibero-American Printmaking at the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington, D.C. , U. S. A.
In 2005 he participates in the VI International Art Showing, Hernán Hidalgo in the CUC in Cartago, Costa Rica. He participates in the Fusión Visual Arts Festival in 2004 and 2005 in the Casa de los Tres Mundos in Granada Nicaragua.
In 2006 he participated in the International Arts Festival (FIA) in San Jose, Costa Rica, the Ibero-American Cultural Capital for 2006. He also participates in the VII International Art Showing Hernán Hidalgo in the CUC in Cartago, Costa Rica. He gives an individual showing of prints and drawings entitled “Eco-grafica” in the Casa de los Tres Mundos in Granada, Nicaragua. He subsequently brings the exposition to Costa Rica and presents it in the Medrano Art Gallery. In September he participates in the group exposition “Another Granada for Walker” in Casa Macondo in Granada Nicaragua.
Carlos Barberena has exhibited individually in Costa Rica, Estonia, France, Mexico, Nicaragua, Spain and The USA.
His work has been shown in important Art Fairs, Art Biennials, Museums, Galleries and Cultural Centers around the world, among them: the IX Nicaraguan Visual Arts Biennial (IX BAVNIC) – Ortiz-Gurdián Foundation. “Recycling Memory: Recapturing the Lost City” curated by Omar López-Chahoud. PAC Museum, Managua, Nicaragua; LAPS 21, National Printmaking Biennial curated by Jack Rutberg, CSUN Art Galleries, Northridge, CA; Pulso: Arte de las Américas curated by Salvador Jimenez, KCAD Fed Galleries, Grand Rapids, MI; “Santitos” curated by René Arceo, Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA), Chicago; Hanal Pixan – Food for the Souls, curated by Dolores Mercado, National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago; III Bronx Latin American Art Biennial curated by Alexis Mendoza, Bronx, New York; “Les Saltimbanques” an homage to Gustave Doré at the Musée d’Art Roger-Quilliot – MARQ – in France, where his work was exhibited alongside Doré’s Masterpiece; III World Body Art Conference in Venezuela, Lia Bermudez Museum; V Biennial of Caribbean Dominican Republic, Museum of the Dominican Man; 8th Triennial – Mondial de L’Estampe et de la Gravure Originale in Chamalieres, France; 6th KIWA at the Kyoto Museum of Art in Japan; Takanabe Art Museum, Miyazaki, Japan; Latin American & Nicaraguan Printmaking, former Convent of San Francisco Museum, Granada, Nicaragua; 24 Grafiekbiennale Sint-Niklaas, International Exlibriscentrum, Stedelijke Musea, Sint-Niklaas, Belgium and the XIII Art Salon, Identity Imprint: A Glance at Ibero-American Printmaking curated by Juan Bernal at the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington, DC.
He has received various awards, most notably the National Printmaking Award 2012 given by the Nicaraguan Institute of Culture in Managua, Nicaragua and the award- poster for the Ecology and Human Rights in Banana Plantations in Costa Rica, given by GEBANA in Berlin, Germany.
Barberena’s work is included in numerous public and private collections, including Ortíz-Gurdián Museum, León, Nicaragua; Douro Printmaking Biennial Collection, Museu do Gravura Douro, Alijo, Portugal; Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA), Chicago, USA; Artist Printmaking Research Collection, Museum of Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX, USA; Special Collection, University of Colorado at Boulder, CO, USA; the National Gallery, San José, Costa Rica; Museum of Contemporary Art “Julio Cortazar” Managua, Nicaragua; Permanent Art Collection of the Bibliotheca of Alexandrina, Alexandria, Egypt; Benedictine University, Lisle, Illinois; KIWA, Kyoto, Japan; the School of Fine Arts, (UNAM), Mexico; the Triennial Prints Cabinet, AMAC, France; the International Exlibriscentrum, Stedelijke Museum in Sint-Niklaas, Belgium; the Lia Bermudez Museum, Venezuela; Former Jesuit College Cultural Center, Patzcuaro, Mexico and Praxis Gallery of Nicaragua.