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Choco (2014)
A Cordones Cook Film. Buy DVD or download. English subtitles.

Eduardo Roca Salazar (Choco)
www.chocotallersol.com

One of the foremost Cuban artists, Choco graduated from the Escuela Nacional de Arte in 1970 and studied at the University of Havana Art School.

He is a member of the Unión Nacional de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba (UNEAC), the Taller Experimental de Gráfica de la Habana (TEGH), and the Asociación Internacional de Artistas Plásticos (AIAP). 

Choco interviewed at Havana Cultura, video

Contact:

   choco_AT_cubarte.cult.cu (replace _AT_ with @)
   (537) 8614257     

Chocolate for Britons, Granma, 10/5/07

Choco: el Soplo de la Vida, Jiribilla, 6/14/03

… social, intelectuar y chic ...Choco, Diago y Mendive en La Cita de Biarritz, por Pedro Pérez Sarduy  2/11/03

Available at AfroCubaWeb:

Choco (2014), 29 minutes long with English subtitles. Direction and production by Juanamaría Cordones-Cook. Comment: presentation of Eduardo “Choco” Roca Salazar, an artist who embodies the cultural success of the Cuban Revolution in its promotion of the arts. Born in a working class family in a small town in the Oriente province, Choco graduated from Cuba’s National Superior School of Art and became a world famous print-maker. Documentary shows Choco at work in his Old Havana workshop, as well as visiting his former art school and a vast collection of his art work from the start of his career. Film is enriched by readings by Nancy Morejón and Pablo Milanés, as well as the music created specially for this film by Miguelito Núñez.  English subtitles. Buy DVD or download.

Choco (2014), 29 minutos con subtítulos en inglés. Dirección y producción de Juanamaría Cordones-Cook. Comentario: presentación de Eduardo “Choco” Roca Salazar, artista plástico que encarna el éxito cultural de la Revolución cubana en su promoción de las artes. De origen muy humilde en una aldea de la Provincia de Oriente cubana, Choco se graduó del Instituto Superior de Arte y ha llegado a ser un celebrado grabador en su realización de colagrafías. El documental lo muestra trabajando en su taller en La Habana Vieja, recorriendo su ciudad y visitando la escuela de arte, a la vez que exhibe una amplia gam a de su creación desde los inicios de su carrera artística. El filme es enriquecido con lecturas de Nancy Morejón y Pablo Milanés, y con la música creada especialmente para Choco por Miguelito Núñez.  Compre el DVD o una descarga
 

Articles/Artículostop

The Artist —Eduardo Roca (Choco) Salazar from MSU School of Global Journalism

Eduardo Roca (Choco) Salazar, gives a tour of his studio while discussing collagraphs, his printmaking technique where images are composed from a variety of textured materials, placed on a plate, then inked and pressed.

Gana Choco el Premio Nacional de Artes Plásticas  11/3/2017 Juventud Rebelde: "Graduado de la Escuela Nacional de Arte en 1970, así como de la Facultad de Artes y Letras de la Universidad de La Habana, Choco es miembro de la Unión de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba (Uneac) y de la Asociación Internacional de Artistas Plásticos (AIAP). Cuenta con más de una treintena de exposiciones personales y colectivas, y una presencia sistemática en el espacio galerístico nacional. Sus obras se encuentran en las colecciones del Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, del Consejo Nacional de las Artes Plásticas, el Museo de África, Chicago; la Fundación Joan Miró, Palma de Mallorca, España, y la Fundación Ludwig, Alemania, entre otras. Eduardo Roca Salazar posee la Distinción por la Cultura Nacional otorgada por el Ministerio de Cultura, y las medallas Alejo Carpentier y Julio Antonio Mella, asignadas por el Consejo de Estado de la República de Cuba."

Choco recibió el Premio Nacional de Artes Plásticas 2017  11/3/2017 Vistar: "El Consejo Nacional de las Artes Plásticas acaba de anunciar que el artista Eduardo Roca (Choco) es merecedor del Premio Nacional de Artes Plásticas, reconocimiento que hace la cultura cubana a creadores por toda una vida dedicada a las artes visuales."

Eduardo Roca (Choco), Premio Nacional de Artes Plásticas 2017  11/3/2017 Jiribilla: "Al maestro de la colagrafía en Cuba, Eduardo Roca Salazar, conocido como Choco por colegas y el público que ha seguido su obra, fue entregado este viernes el Premio Nacional de Artes Plásticas 2017.Nacido en 1949 en Santiago de Cuba, y tras desarrollar estudios de arte, primero en la ENA y luego en la Facultad de Artes y Letras, el artista ha explorado el campo cultural y social cubano como pintor, grabador y escultor."

Choco gana Premio Nacional de Artes Plásticas 2017  11/3/2017 Cuba Debate: "El Ministerio de Cultura de Cuba y el Consejo Nacional de las Artes Plásticas le otorgó este viernes a Eduardo Roca (Choco), el Premio Nacional de Artes Plásticas, máximo galardón que conceden estas entidades. Choco, nombre artístico del destacado pintor y grabador cubano Eduardo Roca Salazar. Es un destacado artista de la plástica de fama mundial. Miembro de la Unión Nacional de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba (UNEAC), del Taller Experimental de Gráfica de la Habana (TEGH) y de la Asociación Internacional de Artistas Plásticos (AIAP)."

Cuban art catches a wave  3/10/2017 Houston Chronicle: "Gite is also thrilled to have limited-edition prints by the internationally known Choco (Eduardo Roca Salazar), who graduated from the Cuban National Art School. Choco's originals are already beyond his price range, Gite said. "People like Choco are making a killing right now. His work is expensive even by U.S. standards.""

Equilibrio a favor de Choco  11/10/2016 Granma: "El artista abrió noviembre con el despliegue de su obra más re­ciente en Zurich, en una muestra titulada Equilibrio hu­mano, que desde el primer día concita el interés de críticos, coleccionistas y público."

Exhibition of renowned Cuban artists for first Harlem/Havana Music & Cultural Festival  8/16/2016 NY Daily News: "Choco, a famed painter, sculptor and printmaker, hails from Santiago de Cuba, Cuba’s second-largest city. With creations inspired by and linked to the island nation and its Afro-Cuban religions and culture, he’s a perfect choice to represent Cuba during the kickoff of the Harlem/Havana festival."

Renaissance men: Exhibit honors artists who brought Afro-Cuban experience into focus  3/6/2016 Columbia Daily Tribune: "A new Afro-Cuban exhibit at the University of Missouri’s Museum of Art and Archaeology reclaims some of that depth and dimension. It focuses on two artists who clarify Cuba only after diving deeper into its complicated, multifaceted identity. Manuel Mendive and Eduardo “Choco” Roca Salazar employ two different aesthetics but complement one another, displaying what it was like to emerge from Castro’s Revolution as artists and black men."

Afro-Cuban Art Collection Launch  3/4/2016 Houston Press: "Now local gallerist Lloyd Gite, on his first art-finding trip to Cuba, has discovered Picasso-esque works by Afro-Cuban artists (those who have mostly West African ancestry). He purchased about 60 pieces from famous and emerging artists, including noted painter and engraver Eduardo Roca (Choco), and brought those works back to launch The Gite Gallery’s new Afro-Cuban art collection."

Master of Collagraphy - Eduardo Roca Salazar "Choco"  1/31/2012 Latin Art Space: At the Multicultural Arts Center in Cambridge, MA - Opening Reception Thursday, May 3, 2012 - On Exhibit May 3 - August 31, 2012

Choco Goes Beyond the Edge  12/6/2010 CubaNow: "The exhibition Más allá del borde (Beyond the Edge) states a plurality of languages and discourses. With this exhibition, Cuban artist Eduardo Roca Salazar, aka Choco, enters the world of sculpture using collagraph etching as a structural axis."

Artist Choco to open gallery exhibit in London  10/4/2007 AfroCubaWeb: interview with renowned artist Choco

El libro de Choco  10/16/2004 Granma: "Como todo libro de arte que se respeta, este, que se titula simplemente Choco, tiene como cuerpo central una galería. Los seguidores de Choco tal vez hubieran querido más, pero lo que está allí es al menos suficiente para indicar las señales de identidad del creador, sus rasgos definitorios, su maestría y proyección. Posee, además, un resumen de valoraciones críticas; una muy interesante selección de textos suscritos por personalidades de la cultura y colegas; así como la cronología de rigor, el itinerario de exposiciones y los premios y distinciones."

Choco: Un maestro, una obra, una manera de firmar  10/10/2004 Jiribilla: "Desde 1976, cuando presentó una exposición personal en la Galería Oriente, de Santiago de Cuba, o desde 1980, cuando lo hizo en la Galería Barrio Viejo, de Estocolmo, Suecia, Choco no ha dejado de ser noticia dentro y fuera de su patria. En San Francisco, en el D.F. de México, en Málaga, en Bogotá, en Palma de Mallorca, en San Sebastián, en La Coruña, en Tokyo, en Gijón y en unas cuantas ciudades más del mundo que se nos quedan en el tintero, se han visto y comentado, en exposiciones personales, las obras del artista que salió de Santiago pero sigue siendo un santiaguero de pura cepa."

ARTE CUBANO POR VARIAS CIUDADES DEL VIEJO CONTINENTE  9/18/2003 Jiribilla: "El próximo 27 de septiembre durante los días del Festival de Cinematografías y Culturas de América Latina, que cada año se realiza en la ciudad francesa de Biarritz, quedará inaugurada la muestra itinerante «social, intelectuar y chic…europa» de los importantes artistas plásticos cubanos Manuel Mendive, Eduardo Roca Salazar (Choco) y Roberto Diago." These are 3 of the best known afrocuban artists alive today.

Octava Bienal de La Habana - Gigantesca galería plural  9/2/2003 Prensa Latina: "Otro de estos proyectos (Isaroko) se desarrollará en el barrio habanero de La California y será conducido por los artistas Manuel Mendive, Roberto Diago y Eduardo Roca (Choco). Esta iniciativa incluye la participación de la comunidad, performances, la intervención de escritores, talleres de creación y la exhibición de obras de los artistas mencionados. En Alamar, el proyecto cultural Espacios se propone modificar las concepciones del hábitat privado de las viviendas cubanas."

CHOCO: EL SOPLO DE LA VIDA  6/14/2003 Jiribilla 
 

Eduardo Roca Salazar (Choco) Exhibit, May 3 – August 31, 2012, Cambridge, MA

Latin Art Space
Cuban, Mexican, and African Art and Culture
Master of Collagraphy - Eduardo Roca Salazar "Choco"

March 15, 2012

EXHIBITION: Eduardo Roca Salazar (Choco)
Retazos del Sol - Traces of the Sun

DATES: April 26 – August 31, 2012
OPENING: Artist Reception and Talk with Choco from Havana, May 3, 6:30-8:30pm
LOCATION: Multicultural Arts Center, 41 2nd St., Cambridge
CONTACT: Astrid Martinez-Jones, latinartspace_AT_gmail.com

Renowned Afro-Cuban artist, Eduardo Roca Salazar (Choco) will be in Cambridge, MA from Havana for the opening of his most recent art exhibition, Retazos del Sol (Traces of the Sun). Choco is internationally recognized for his collagraphs, a printmaking technique in which the image is composed from a variety of textured materials placed on a plate, then inked and pressed. These materials, often discarded remnants, are recycled by Choco and turned into vibrant images that beckon to be touched. As is evident in Choco’s work, collagraphs provide opportunity for a tremendous scope of innovation and experiment. 

On view at the Multicultural Arts Center in East Cambridge and sponsored by Latin Art Space, Retazos del Sol is a series of works representative of contemporary Cuban life and culture. Choco’s work reflects the magical world of Afro-Cuban religions, as well as the ethnic mix of people, and the racial and economic challenges of daily Cuban life. Choco’s collagraphs are boldly colorful and his technique gives the images a 3-dimensional and stunning textured feel, as if they were in motion. This movement is sustained in Choco’s interpretation of the figures themselves, where bodies are twisting and reaching, swaying or working, and often entranced in a deep gaze. His figures deliberately reflect the racial and cultural mix of Cubans, with an African mouth, oriental eyes and various shades of skin color, portraying a universal individual with whom many will identify. The sharp contrast of colors responds to his particular symbolism and to a very personal lyricism, which establishes an emotional connection with the viewer. He displays a passion for diversity, and admiration for societies with a rich mixture of ethnic, racial, and cultural backgrounds, such as those found in Cuba, the United States, and Brazil. 

Choco was born in Santiago de Cuba in 1949 and is a graduate of the Escuela Nacional de Arte (National Art School) in Havana. Along with Nelson Dominguez, he was one of the first Cuban artists -after the 1959 Cuban revolution- invited to the United States to exhibit his work in 1980. There have been two crucial moments in Choco´s career. The first, when he was recognized as one of the leading figures of the rural movement in painting which was significant in shaping the 70’s generation of Cuban artists. The second was his exploration of collagraphy in the 80s and early 90s, an achievement that has awarded him the distinction, master of collagraphy.

Choco has had numerous solo and group shows in Cuba, Angola, Sweden, the United States, Mexico, Spain, Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Tokyo, receiving many accolades and awards. A most important honor for him was winning the Great Prize in the Triennial of Kochi, Japan. Choco’s works can be found in many private and public collections, including: Museo de Bellas Artes, Havana; African Museum of Art, Chicago; Miro Foundation, Spain; Ludwig Foundation, Germany; Kochi Museum, Japan; El Museo de la Estampa, Mexico; and Casa Lamm, Mexico, amongst others.

In his Taller del Sol (Workshop of the Sun) in Old Havana, art collectors, museum curators, and gallery owners come from all over the world to experience the magic of his artwork. Choco’s visit to the Greater Boston area will afford viewers a rare opportunity to engage in informative conversations with the artist about his work, and life as an artist in Cuba.

For more information about the exhibition and/or press photos, please contact Astrid Martinez-Jones at:  latinartspace_AT_gmail.com



Colibrí (Hummingbird), collagraph

Master of Collagraphy - Eduardo Roca Salazar "Choco"  1/31/2012 Latin Art Space: At the Multicultural Arts Center in Cambridge, MA - Opening Reception Thursday, May 3, 2012 - On Exhibit May 3 - August 31, 2012

 

Exhibits

Eleggua, 2004

 

 

 

 

Choco (left) with author Pedro Perez Sarduy (right), May 
Day Parade, with 'cultural workers' participating
(Plaza de la Revolucion, Havana, 1978)
Photo courtesy Pedro Perez Sarduy

1976 
Galería Oriente, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

1977 
"Hombres de Mocha", Galería Habana, Habana, Cuba

1978 
Galería Central de la Isla de la Juventud, Cuba

1980 
Galería de Arte de Bayamo, Cuba
Galería Barrio Viejo. Estocolmo, Suecia

1981 
Galería Misión. San Francisco, USA

1982 
Galería de Arte del Grabado "Francisco Javier Báez" ,Plaza de la Catedral, Habana, Cuba

1984 
Casa de la Cultura Regional del Municipio Centro Habana. Habana, Cuba
Casa de la Cultura Pirámides. México DF, México

1987
"Cosas Sueltas", Galería Plaza Vieja, Fondo Cubano de Bienes Culturales. Habana, Cuba

1989 
Sala Provincial del Palacio de Málaga, España

1992
"Una Transparencia Cubana", Centro de Prensa Internacional, Habana, Cuba
"Una Transparencia Cubana". Museo de la Estampa, México
Casa de la Cultura Reyes Héroles, México
Galería Pedro Domec. México

1993
Galería "Alonso". Bogotá, Colombia
"Para el Amigo Sincero". Foro Cultural de Coyoacán

1994 
Talleres y Fundación "Joan Miró". España

1995 
Galería Atlántica. La Coruña. España
Galería Medioevo, Fuenterrabia. San Sebastián, España

1996
Museo de Bellas Artes. Tokio, Japón
"En la Zona del Crepúsculo". Castillo Sotomayor. Galicia, España
"Grabados". Galería Domingo Ravenet. Habana, Cuba

1997
Museo Yokohama. Tokio, Japón 

1998
"Grabados". La Casona, Fondo Cubano de Bienes Culturales. Habana, Cuba.
"De Muros y Transparencias". Centro Cultural Pablo de la Torriente. Habana, Cuba

1999 
Exposición de Grabados. Kochi, Japón
"Sorteando Caminos". Galería Acacia. Habana, Cuba

2000 
Galería PromoArte. Tokio, Japón
Galería París. Yokohama. Japón
Galería Benito Ortiz. Trinidad, Cuba.

2001
"Choco...late". Memorial "José Martí". Habana, Cuba
Galería Somart. "Estilos cubanos". San Francisco, USA
Galería Somart. "Estilos cubanos". Washington D.C., USA
Museo de las Américas, "Al Filo del Milenio". San Juan, Puerto Rico
llucmajor, "Pinturas y Grabados". Mallorca, España

2002 
Galería PromoArte. "Los Misterios del Azul". Tokio, Japón
Museo Erasto Cortes. "Cubaenlagráfica". Puebla, México

2003 
Centro Cultural Casa Lamm "El Soplo de la Vida". México 


Schedule/Planificaciontop

Master of Collagraphy - Eduardo Roca Salazar "Choco"  1/31/2012 Latin Art Space: At the Multicultural Arts Center in Cambridge, MA - Opening Reception Thursday, May 3, 2012 - On Exhibit May 3 - August 31, 2012

Gallery opening in London, 10/11/2007

Exhibition Start Date Thursday 11th October 2007
Exhibition End Date Friday 9th November 2007

 

Two roles, one viewpoint / Interview with Cuban art critic: David Mateo, 10/2010top

Chambers Gallery, 10/2010

Review by Miguel Barnet on the occasion of Choco´s exhibition Abanico de Posibilidades (A range of possibilities) in the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana, May 2004. 

"Choco, master of collography, is the most seasoned of Cuba´s figurative expressionists - his solid impastos and sensual figures placing him head and shoulders above his contemporaries. Like his painting, he is delicate and at the same time expansive, rich in chiaroscuro and seductive by nature. His seduction makes us savour his paintings, find support in wood and linoleum, in metal and vinyl. He takes us by the hand to a world captivating in its aromas of tropical fruits and arms and legs of the bodies which merge in their ethnicity to strengthen the island´s identity. In his art I see the essence of the Cuban, an essence which he rescues with his talent and sensibilities and raises to a universal category. 

His work contributes to our own understanding of ourselves as better human beings because with it we discover another path to the realm of the fantastic which we all aspire to reach - where art always leads us, this time at the hand of the great Choco."

There have been two crucial moments in Choco´s career. The first, when he was recognised as one of the leading figures of the ´epic-rural´ movement in painting which was so important in shaping the ¨70´s generation¨ of Cuban artists. The second moment was his exploration of ´collography´ in the 80s and early 90s, an achievement only matched in Cuba by the well-known engraver, Belkis Ayón

For Choco, orthodox limitations are rejected. Even when he seems closer to one genre or another, similar intentions can be seen in both; whatever his chosen medium, his skills are driven by over forty years´ artistic experience. 

DM: Choco, you come from a generation that emerged from anonymity and exclusion to enter -after the revolution of 1959?? - the world of artistic creativity. How did this happen? 

Ch: In the early 60s, the government launched an initiative for people to study arts in Havana. I passed all the tests and came to the capital. It was 1962, and I was only 12 years old. I started a professional course at the Escuela Nacional de Instructores de Arte (The National School for Art Instructors). There were classes in painting, engraving and handicrafts and I had the privilege of meeting some of the biggest artists of that time ? people like Alfredo Sosabravo, Antonia Eiriz, Núñez Booth, and Armando Posse, who opened my eyes to the world of creativity. I didn´t have the slightest idea what it meant to be a painter, let alone an artist! When I finished my studies, I couldn´t work as an arts instructor as I wasn´t old enough, I was lucky, however, because I was accepted by the, Escuela Nacional de Arte (National School of Arts). 

Antonia Eiriz had the biggest impact in my development at that time. After I finished at the National School of Arts, she continued giving me classes for some time. I also learned to appreciate Sosabravo who is a great teacher, and I have fond memories of Armando Posse, with whom I continued learning after I joined the Taller Experimental de Gráfica (Experimental Graphics Workshop). 

DM: Who gave you the nickname Choco? 

Ch: When I joined ENA (the National School of Arts) some colleagues started to compare me with Chocolatico Pérez, a boxer from Santiago de Cuba. That´s how it started. When you get a nickname, at the beginning you hate it. Everyone mocks your uneasiness. All my family was calling me Chocolate, Choco?? - my mother, my wife, my kids; so I had to accept it one way or the other. And that was it. 

DM:  When did you learn engraving techniques? 

Ch: Engraving was one of the courses taught at ENA when I was there, around 1965. Later, in 1975, I joined Taller de Gráfica in the Plaza de la Catedral in Old Havana, full of first-rate artists. In those days it was difficult to come by all the material needed so Cuban artists had to develop alternative forms of creating, such as engraving. 

In the 80s, I had the chance to go to the US and I learned a lot about this technique. When I returned to Cuba I put all that experience to good use, particularly in lithography. I must say that I have never adopted engraving simply as engraving per se. I think of it as painting and that´s how it´s reflected throughout my work. At the beginning, there was a time when I developed some engravings in black and white contrasts, improvising with shades of grey. However, I must confess that I was working from the perspective of working with colour. I also started working on metal and linoleum, due to lack of other materials. 

This shortage of materials lasted all through the 80s so I started developing collography. It is an innovative technique and mainly pictorial. At the beginning, when working on it, I felt like I was painting, doing wide brushstrokes and placing all the colours on the printing plate as if it was on canvas. It was a major discovery, an ideal alternative to painting. Afterwards, by the end of the 70s a more prosperous period followed, when I had the chance to start painting the Cuban landscape, the countryside and the campesinos (peasants). Then I created really colourful pieces. The figuration came out with the same strength, the same expressiveness, that I created with my engraving. Some people might see me as an engraver. In my mind, as an artist, I function as a painter. That was what I studied at ENA 

DM:  Have you had any preferred style during your career? 

Ch: I love all styles and I favour all trends. At a certain moment in my development, new figuration had a major impact and I have carried it with me ever since. I am attracted to abstract art and no one can figure it out. My work is figurative par excellence. However, an identification with the abstract bubbles in my spirit. I have deeply admired the work of Raúl Martínez and I feel it is quite close to my artistic conception, even though we face art differently. I have also studied the works of Rembrandt, Velázquez, and Picasso, whom I consider the greatest of masters. I encourage the young irreverent artists and I am proud of having taught some of them in the 1980s. The challenge for me is seeing all these generations, all those periods, all those revolutions in style, and keeping myself active, trying to create work that?? - even from more traditional positions?? - approaches the heights that these young artists envisage. 

DM:  What have been the essential subjects of your work through all these years? 

Ch: For the first 10 years, I dealt with the campesinos (peasants in the Cuban countryside). This subject attracted most of my generation of the 70s, each artist giving it his or her own personal, individual style. Most of us were of provincial or rural origins, and as a result of the radical change after 1959, we became involved in the social process. So, our work conveyed a vision of the country from an urban perspective, or the representation of our own experience of migrating to the city. 

DM:  Have you been interested in issues of race or identity? 

Ch: When I paint, I don´t think in terms of white, mulatto, black or Chinese. The person I portray has body, limbs, soul, heart, grey matter. I refer to the biological, universal man. The person I paint has no particular skin colour or profile. If you look closely, I show them with heterogeneous features, maybe African lips, Chinese eyes, pink or earth skin shades: it is a person that has its ascendancy all over the world. 

When you look at my human figures, if you look closer at their faces, you see an amalgamation of elements. From a face, let´s say, I can extract any object: vegetation, for instance, or landscape. I am comfortable, formally and conceptually, painting man as the centre of everything. 

There was a time when I eliminated all reference to man, in a series during the 70s that I called ¨The secret life of plants.¨ People would come up and ask ¨Why aren´t you including the campesinos any more?¨ I´d reply: ¨You´re right, the campesino is no longer there but his context is. Everything you could not see before because it was in the background of the campesino is now there, the sugarcane plantation, the citrus groves, everything.¨ I tried to get a close-up of plants, to underline all that shows life in them, just to establish a parallel with the human being. 

DM:  Now that you´re involved full time in painting, has your collography work diminished? 

Ch: Both collography and the mystery of engraving are so deep inside me that it is practically impossible for me to separate from it. Even when most of my work is painting, I am compelled to do some engraving. My body craves for it, and so do my canvasses? Why? Because with engraving I learned many things useful for painting. This feedback across both techniques makes it difficult to exclude engraving from my work. If I paint ten canvasses, it is because I have done at least five pieces in any engraving technique, even though I prefer collography. Also engraving pushes me to go on with my work, it has never disappointed me or let me down. 

DM:  Nowadays you have a following?? - people who track all your events and exhibitions. Is that a signal that your work has reached a comfortable peak of achievement? 

Ch: I am not aware of that limit and I believe I will be never be aware of it. Besides, it is not up to me to define it. One´s career lasts till death. I believe in what I do, and I think that in order to achieve a certain level or maturity, you have to work everyday, day after day. I am not worried about fame, but about how to find the ideal manner to express the context where I live, its atmosphere, its spirit, its illumination, the specific way of feeling and living of its people. 

DM:  How has your work been received outside Cuba? 

Ch: I have done several exhibitions in different parts of the world, in highly developed countries. Japan is the one I find most interesting. My work has been very welcome there. The Japanese are impressed with the fact that Cuban artists have supplemented the lack of resources with an enormous intellectual eagerness and creativity. Some people have used the term ¨poor art¨ to describe Cuban art, but it carries a contradiction in itself. You may work with poor, ephemeral materials, but if you put your life and your talent into it, it is not poor but wealthy art. It carries the experience, the body and the soul of the artist. In a talk I had at the Kyoto University, the professors confessed that, with the excessive use of material and technological resources, some of the creations of the young local artists appeared cold, ethereal and lacking sense. 

DM:  What´s your opinion of the Cuban critics and their comments about the generation of the 70s? 

Ch: I hardly ever pay attention to the critics. They´re never aware of what goes on in the inner world of an artist. The artist thinks of something and the critic adorns the whole thing because he has the gift to speak. However, both the artist and the critic are on opposite tracks of thought most of the time. Our creative process back in the 70s when we started was completely in tune with the revolutionary transformation happening in the country. The interesting thing is that this much-criticised generation is still around, doing a lot of deeply important things in and out of the country. When a generation is aware of what it does and continues to create and participate in the cultural process of its time, it is difficult for it to lose its way or go backwards. 

DM:  Some of your contemporaries and some that came after your time, mainly engravers, show a direct influence of your method and artistic style. What´s your view on that? 

Ch: I am actually quite happy that people follow the things I do. It means they have value. What I have achieved so far and what people now follow is the result of experimenting and studying. For example, for those planes of black in my collographic work, quite difficult to make, I started experimenting in different fabrics and also jute. At the beginning, it did not work out because of the texture and the thread combination, and the greying effects on cardboard. Then I tried sandpaper and carborundum, but it did not work either, and they were expensive. In the end, I tried with sand. You can imagine all the hard work, as I had to sift through a massive amount of sand from the sea and then let it dry under the sun so it would not affect the pieces. It was a long process but it worked out cheaper. I managed to achieve clean and tranquil shades of black and I was able to combine it with interesting textures, conceived with fine wooden plates. 


Chocolate for Britons
, 10/5/07top

BY ESTRELLA DIAZ — Special for Granma International

IT’S not that the British have stopped drinking tea. No. It’s that during this October, at the Chambers Gallery in London, they can admire the one-man show of Chocolate, alias Eduardo Roca Salazar, one of the most outstanding and significant figures in Cuban contemporary visual arts.

Colibrí
Colibrí
 

This exhibition by Choco —his first one-man show in that country— is something of a “preview,” because in September 2008, a series of Cuban cultural events will take place in this capital, including music, film, ballet and visual arts exhibitions.

Michael Chambers, owner of the above-mentioned gallery, recently traveled to Havana and visited the Taller del Sol workshop, named after the street where it is located, and where Choco currently works. There, acting as curator, he chose about 50 works of art, most of which are larger than four square meters, and which are oil on cloth, colagraphy and mixed media. 

According to the artist, he is satisfied with his selection and believes that it is a “very interesting exhibition for British eyes.” All of the pieces were made during the last three years, after his one-man show in the National Museum of Fine Arts (2004), titled Abanico de posibilidades (Range of Possibilities), an important moment in his creative activities, a profound look back, given the degree of maturity and the solidness of his creations.

From then to date, Choco’s body of work has expanded and experienced growth; that is perhaps due to the fact that his workshop – thanks to efforts by the City Historian’s Office – has increased not just physically, but also “in themes.”

“I believe that I am at an excellent moment to continue creating the work that my people and my country deserve,” Choco commented. He added, “I don’t know if in the immediate future I will experience a change of theme: those are things that one never knows; they are aspects that you cannot predict, but the result comes out of a profound analysis of who we are and how far we have come as a people, as a nation.”

Throughout this year, Choco, a tireless worker and a laboriously systematic artist, has participated in several collective exhibitions, and one of them, because of its humane significance, holds special importance: “The one dedicated to the Cuban five, who are unjustly imprisoned in the United States.”

He has also illustrated several books and a collection of African short stories.

“That work expands your thinking and enriches your work,” he affirmed, noting that before the year is over, he plans to travel to his native province of Santiago de Cuba in the east to participate in an exhibition of religious-themed work.

“I think the mystical subject is important, because it nourishes us as human beings and makes us better,” he concluded.

www.granma.cu/ingles/2007/octubre/vier5/40choco-i.html

 

Vernissage de "Choco" in London -Private View October 11, 2007
From Left: Michael Chambers (owner of The Chambers Gallery); Jean 
Stubbs; "Choco" and wife Gloria Garcia, and Pedro Perez Sarduy


Choco: el Soplo de la Vida, Jiribilla, 6/14/03top

“Me estoy preparando con todos los hierros, ya verán” es la frase que se le escapa a Eduardo Roca Salazar, Choco, segundos después de revelar, en exclusiva para La Jiribilla, que en mayo del venidero año realizará su primera exposición personal en el Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes.

Estrella Díaz| La Habana
Fotos: Cortesía del artista y del Centro Pablo de la Torriente Brau 


Eduardo Roca Salazar, Choco, quien por la calidad de su obra, ha sido considerado por la crítica especializada un “maestro” del grabado contemporáneo cubano es, también, un sólido pintor que tiene entre sus temas favoritos La Habana y sus gentes. 

“Me estoy preparando con todos los hierros, ya verán” es la frase que se le escapa, segundos después de revelar, en exclusiva para La Jiribilla, que en mayo del venidero año realizará su primera exposición personal en el Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. 

Recientemente este creador —que insistentemente utiliza como medio de expresión la colagrafía, una de las tantas técnicas del grabado—, regresó de México, a donde viajó con una exposición titulada El soplo de la vida. 

—A México voy anualmente porque de ahí sigo hacia Japón donde en los últimos diez años mi obra ha tenido aceptación. Una década atrás trabajé estrechamente con varias galerías como La Praxis, la Casa de Cultura Reyes Seroles, Museo de Querétaro, en el Museo de la Estampa en el DF. En los noventa la situación en ese país se puso un poco complicada y decidí retirarme. 

Luego me di cuenta que México era una plaza interesante —entre otras razones— porque posee una artesanía muy fuerte, con una tradición humana y cultural sólida. Me dije: tengo que volver y lo hice el año pasado con una muestra en el Museo Erasto Cortéz, en Puebla que es una ciudad preciosa, maravillosa, en la que se respira cultura a través de sus iglesias y sus universidades. 

Establecí un contacto con la Casa Lamm, gentes maravillosas, lugar impresionante; pienso que es un sitio en el que — aunque elitista— se puede incrementar la posibilidad de realizar muestras y otras actividades porque su entorno engendra vida cultural. Decidimos entre Claudia Gómez y Germaine Gómez, ambas de la directiva de esa Casa Lamm, montar mi exposición para tratar de entrar nuevamente en ese mercado. 

—¿Por qué El Soplo de la vida?

—Mi familia y a la gente que me rodea en el Taller Experimental de la Gráfica de la Plaza de la Catedral, se impresionaron mucho con una obra que hice en los años noventas que se llamó, precisamente, El Soplo de la vida. 

En ella hay diferentes momentos de índole político, social y económico; es una pieza muy impactante. Mi ministro (Abel Prieto, titular cubano de cultura) me comentó que era una obra significativa entre las muchas que he realizado. Esa pieza estaba incluida en la muestra que llevé a México y por eso decidí ponerle este título. 

—¿Cuántas obras integraron la expo? 

—Dieciocho piezas de diferentes tamaños, incluido El Soplo de la vida —que tiene tres metros— y alrededor de doce matrices donde también estaba incluida la de El Soplo… Esto le dio un acento muy interesante a la exposición porque el espectador podía ver el ejemplar junto a la matriz y hacer un intercambio de lenguajes, contextos y lecturas. Como algo didáctico me parece importante. 

—Esta no es la primera vez que expones obra contra matriz; recuerdo tu exposición personal en la Sala Transitoria del Memorial José Martí, cuya curaduría estuvo a cargo de Roberto Chile. ¿Por qué retomas esta idea?

—El espectador es siempre muy disímil e invariablemente quiere saber. El hecho de mostrar la matriz causa un interés mayor a la hora de apreciar porque es como si estuviera viendo un espejo. Ello da la posibilidad de casi volar a la hora de interpretar una obra ya que estás mirando parte importante de su proceso, de su génesis. 

Cuando hago una muestra me encanta ofrecer estas dos partes porque veo el asombro. Si yo me sorprendo, ¡imagínate el efecto de causa en otros!. Constato que las personas tienen un nivel de interpretación con una fuerza espiritual impresionante. Vacilo —si se quiere— cómo la gente se para a mirar, a descubrir, a leer todo lo que está pasando a su alrededor en relación con la obra impresa y con la matriz. 

—Las artes plásticas tienen mucho de técnica, pero también de magia. El hecho de desnudarte como creador, de enseñar la matriz y luego la obra concluida ¿no matará un poco, no dará muchos elementos al espectador, no será descubrirte demasiado?

—Otras personas piensan lo mismo. Cuando alguien me pide orientación —sobre todo en lo relacionado con la colagrafía— le digo hasta del mal que va a morir; no me preocupa; esos son mis secretos. Les digo, pero no les hago. Si logran un resultado, tal vez, me den un valor que no tengo. 

—¿Planes para lo que resta del 2003?

—Bastantes. Este año estoy interesado en hacer un recorrido por varias provincias cubanas. Ya estuve por Colón y Sancti Spíritus, después viajaré a Matanzas y Holguín, luego tengo algunos compromisos en el extranjero. En el mes de julio iremos a las ciudades canadienses de Toronto y Montreal, después a Francia, Londres, Italia y concluimos en Grecia. 

Por primera vez tres artistas —los maestros Manuel Mendive, Roberto Diago y yo— agrupados en torno a un proyecto que auspician las Fundaciones Havana Club y Pernod Ricard Internacional, intentaremos mostrar cómo somos los cubanos a partir de nuestras propias vivencias y obras.

La elección es interesante porque —además de querernos mucho— poseemos visiones muy diferentes. Hay esculturas realizadas por Mendive, óleos sobre lienzo hechos por Diago, grabados míos y varias instalaciones de los tres. Se va a aumentar el tamaño y la cantidad de piezas de cada uno; será una muestra grandísima con alrededor de treinta y cinco obras de cada uno. Si aplicamos la matemática elemental, suman más de 100. No queremos impresionar al mundo, vamos a impresionarlo.

También, como grupo, estaremos en la Bienal de Artes Plásticas de La Habana y trabajaremos en un solar de La Habana Vieja con público, en vivo. Aunque aún no tenemos todos los detalles queremos interactuar con el espectador y eso será parte de la Bienal. Estoy motivado con ese proyecto”. 

—Esas giras nacionales que mencionas ¿cómo están organizadas? 

—A partir de exposiciones personales que incluyen algunos conversatorios, encuentros y clases magistrales. Visitaremos escuelas especializadas, grupos de artistas, nos reuniremos con miembros de la Unión de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba, UNEAC, y de la Asociación Hermanos Saíz. Las gentes en las provincias están con muchos deseos, con hambre intelectual, y si nosotros podemos darle ese apoyo, se lo daremos. 

—Siempre insistes en que eres grabador y pintor, y pintor y grabador, pero la colagrafía se está convirtiendo cada vez más en el centro de tu quehacer ¿se impondrá?

—No, imposible. Lo que sucede es que en estos momentos estoy trabajando más al descubierto. Todo el mundo me ve cuando estoy haciendo grabado, pero nadie me observa cuando pinto. Eso es otro rito, pero estoy —quizás—pintando más que nunca.

 

Link/Enlacestop

Eduardo Roca Salazar (Choco) 
www.promo-arte.com/eng/artists/10eduardo_roca.html

www.chocotallerdelsol.com

choco.trovacub.com

Choco (2014), ca. 29 minutes long with English subtitles. Direction and production by Juanamaría Cordones-Cook. Comment: presentation of Eduardo “Choco” Roca Salazar, an artist who embodies the cultural success of the Cuban Revolution in its promotion of the arts. Born in a working class family in a small town in the Oriente province, Choco graduated from Cuba’s National Superior School of Art and became a world famous print-maker. Documentary shows Choco at work in his Old Havana workshop, as well as visiting his former art school and a vast collection of his art work from the start of his career. Film is enriched by readings by Nancy Morejón and Pablo Milanés, as well as the music created specially for this film by Miguelito Núñez.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPGWLXSmG4M

 

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