by: LaJiribilla.cu/presentecubanart.org 06/11/17
Cuban artist Eduardo Roca Salazar, known as Choco by colleagues and the public that have followed his work, was awarded this week the National Prize for Visual Arts 2017.
Born in 1949 in Santiago de Cuba, and after studying art, first in the ENA (Cuba’s National Arts School) and also teaching there, the artist has explored the Cuban cultural and social field as a painter, engraver and sculptor.
Several exhibitions stand out, which have travelled beyond Cuba’s borders translating, in a very personal way, symbols and feelings of Cuban identity.
“Choco knows that only art accompanies us in the adventure of transgression and metamorphosis. His work helps us understand each other better as human beings because in it we discover another path to the fantasy realm … “, wrote Miguel Barnet about one of those exhibitions, ‘Fan of possibilities’, his solo show at the Museum of Fine Arts in Havana.
This artist has highlighted a sensitivity that has led to constant experimentation in the country’s graphics. The Havana Art Biennial and international fairs such as Arco Madrid and Art Basel have shown his work, for which he has received various prizes and mentions, as well as distinctions within the national art scene.
Choco’s works are in institutional collections such as the National Museum of Fine Arts, the Cultural Center Pablo de la Torriente Brau, the Ministry of Culture, the Office of the Historian of the city, the National Council of Visual Arts. With respect to the international collections, his work is in the Museum of Africa, Chicago, United States; of the Museum of the Estampa, D.F. Mexico; Museum of Querétaro, Mexico; University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago; Joan Miró Foundation, Palma de Mallorca, Spain; International Center de l’Estampe, URDLA, Lyon, France; Ludwig Foundation, Germany; Museum of the University of Tama, Japan; Franco Gallery, Santa Fe de Bogotá, Colombia; Kochy Museum, Japan. His works have also entered various private collections in Cuba, Mexico, the United States, Colombia, Canada, Panama, Puerto Rico, Martinique, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Great Britain, China, Japan.
The artist is familiarly known as Choco, a nickname his classmates gave him after his arrival in Havana as a child, because of his resemblance to a boxer from Santiago de Cuba of the same name. He is one of Cuba’s most internationally recognised artists. Above all, he is acclaimed for his collographic works, although he also creates in oils and ceramics. In a collagraph, the original image is composed from a variety of materials placed on a plate, then inked and pressed. These materials, often discarded remnants, are recycled by Choco and lend great texture and movement to his works. Associated with the new figurative art movement, Choco’s work focuses on the faces and figures of peasants and Afro Cuban women, creating convincing revelations with complex lines through the vigour of his strokes and textures. Although he is not a practitioner of santeria, a syncretic religion initially brought to Cuba by African peoples forced into slavery, its rituals and symbols are central to his work.