Known globally as ‘Choco’, the remarkable plastic artist Eduardo Roca Salazar has great work to his credit, and although he is more identified with painting and engraving, he also makes sculptures of all types of materials, among other works, as all ‘are important and I like them’, which is why – he confirmed to this journalist – he is “a painter, poet and crazy”.
During a meeting at his studio in Calle Sol No 20-B in Havana Vieja, Choco, with his typical simplicity, talked extensively about his work to which he has dedicated almost all his life.
When only a teenager, he studied in the National School of Art Instructors and then the National Art School to later graduate with a History degree from the University of Havana. His dedication to plastic arts has not centred on creating his art, but also in sharing his knowledge through courses and workshops in Cuba and many other countries, among them Spain, the United States and France.
Among the main motivations inspiring his work are religion, the daily life of the Cuban and big events. As he declared to this magazine “Something that inspired me in my work was my time as a student, when we went to school in the countryside. There we saw the country people working the land, sugar cane cutters and fruit pickers.”
“Also”, he continued, “the Afro-Cuban religion has heavily influenced my creations, the people ‘on foot’, the neighbours, the people who pass down the street, their way of walking, all that is reflected in my work”.
Fundamental in Choco’s work, without doubt, is the influence of African religion in Cuban culture, so he considers it remains very rooted in the country. “All of that, he says, I have reflected in different textures and shapes and I have done a series ‘Loose things’ which shows all that.”
Later, he considered that in his work he has been influenced by many different national and international artists, mentioning among them Servando Cabrera, Wilfredo Lam, Rene Portocarrero, Van Gogh, Velazquez, who used different nuances and colours in their creations that brought great experience to his work.
Responding to the question about his recommendations to new generations of plastic artists, he said “There are many young artists with great talent, but I think they have to study a lot, work seriously and take great care with scientific-technical advances that sometimes make work easier. The worst that could happen to a human being, he warned, is after having done something, having to regret.”
While talking of his projects, his face lit up, as he is very enthusiastic about his current work: “I am working hard to strengthen myself as a ceramist. I am looking at the technical and practical possibilities of working in ceramics. This and working in bronze is very attractive for me, the three-dimensional force it has, inspires in me great passion. I have been able to see my work in different angles and this gets me in the heart and fills me with energy to continue my work, he emphasized.