Jean “Baco” Ortiz


My work is a reflection on the identity and historical context of the Afro-descendant and Puerto Rican community to which I belong. I draw inspiration from everyday processes of the present and past, such as the burning of sugarcane and weeds, which I use as metaphors to speak about transformation and rebirth. Additionally, I focus on portraying characters and occupations of the working class, emphasizing their importance and role within the community.

Currently, I center my artistic expression on representing images drawn from Afro-descendant references in my environment. Through my expressive works, I aim to capture stories with real elements taken out of context, encouraging the viewer’s imagination.

Jean “Baco” Ortiz is a Puerto Rican visual artist and educator. He obtained a B.A. in Painting from the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico (PUCPR), Ponce Campus. In 2017, he held his first solo exhibition titled “(G)entes” at the Trinitaria Gallery in Ponce. Ortiz’s oil paintings incorporate glazes, a technique that reveals other traditions not historically associated with fine art. By doing so, he blurs the boundaries between fine arts and popular arts, asserting that a people’s true history lies beneath the official narratives of the privileged classes.

Beyond his artistic endeavors, Ortiz has been an active community leader in the Bélgica neighborhood of Ponce. He has created murals for various events, including “Ponce Renace,” “Pa’ el Barrio,” “Ponce es Ley,” “Yaucromatic,” “Píntate pal Oeste,” and “Guánica Color y Vida.” His mural work extends to foundations and private entities such as Centro D.I.V.A., Amnesty International, and the Culebra Foundation.

In 2021, Ortiz exhibited his works in the collective exhibition “El Bacanal” at the Museum of Ponce History and participated in the “Afroidentidades” showcase as part of the first Afro Summit in 2022. Throughout 2023, he continued to participate in exhibitions both in Puerto Rico and abroad. Some notable exhibitions include “Afrofutura” at the ORI Gallery in San Juan, “Candela Candela” at the Afro Corridor in Loíza, “Afro Sur” at the Ramón Rivera Bermúdez Historical Museum in Coamo, and “Absolutamente Negro” at the Caribbean Museum Center of the Arts in St. Croix. His recent solo exhibition “La fortuna del incendio” was displayed at Casa Silvana as part of the Young Afro Series.

Jean "Baco" Ortiz. Untitled, 2023. Oil pastel and charcoal on paper, 5.5 x 8.5 in. Photo courtesy of the artist.