ChocoEduardo Roca Salazar (Choco) (Santiago de Cuba, 1949)

This 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.

In 1970 Choco graduated from the Escuela Nacional de Arte (ENA) and did a teacher training course at the San Alejandro Fine Arts Academy. He joined the department of painting at San Alejandro and the Escuela Nacional de Arte, where he helped shape the study programme.

During his career Choco has had countless solo and group exhibitions in Cuba and internationally, in Spain, Japan, USA, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Canada, the UK, amongst other countries. He is held in private and public collections in most of these countries. Alongside his exhibitions, he has frequently led workshops on the ‘colography’ technique. Choco has received multiple awards and commendations in recognition of his creative work. A most important honor for him was winning the Great Prize in the Triennial of Kochi, Japan.

image: still from ‘Leo Choco’ – video by Ian Padron