“My work is basically about the relationship between individuals and a particular social group – how the individual keeps trying to have his own identity even though he can’t escape his social group and society in general,” Peña says.

“We all have our institutions – family, religious, athletic, whatever -and they carry their own ideologies with them. We can’t escape them. We’re all institutionalized but we all think we’re individuals. This duality is what motivates my work.”

René Peña graduated with a degree in English Language. He is highly regarded in the international art world as a photographic artist who challenges viewers to reflect on their stereotypical responses to the images he creates. His photography is characterized by stark contrasts between black and white, subject and background, subject and object. He often uses his own body as a subject through which to interrogate important themes such as black identity, sexual ambiguity and the influence of consumerism.

Peña’s work has been shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions including in USA, Spain, Brazil, Italy, Columbia, Cuba, and is held in collections throughout Europe and the Americas.

He has won several major awards including First Prize, IV Biennal del Caribe, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; and First Prize for Black & White, III Concurso de Fotografía del UCCI, Spain.

Watch the video made by Havana Cultura of Rene talking about his work here

(you need to select English subtitles in settings on the site)