Roberto Salas a life in Photography
By Ilsa Rodríguez
More than half a century of tireless efforts has led Roberto Salas to the summit of Cuban photography. This has been reached thanks to the almost divine grace with which he immortalized the essence of Cuban history since the 1959 revolutionary triumph of which he has been an exceptional witness through the lens of his camera.
The son of photojournalist Osvaldo Salas, Roberto Salas was born in 1940 and raised in the Bronx, New York City. He took his first steps in the profession in his father’s portrait studio and, at 17, published his first picture in Life magazine, depicting the red and black flag of the rebel group led by Fidel Castro (26 de Julio Movement) at the Statue of Liberty.
But if Salas is known and praised for his work on Cuban daily life, so is his graphic testimony of the Vietnam War, which has won numerous awards both in Cuba and the Asian country, as have his art and experimental photos.
Besides his work as a war photographer and for different media both in Cuba and the U.S., Salas also excels in fine art photography, with essays like “Así son los cubanos,” prepared in 2007 on his 50 years behind the lens. He calls it a work in progress. Others of his collections are also continually enriched over the years because, he says, it is very difficult to conclude.
His series Tumba, bembé y batá (the first in 1963), Nostalgias, Epigramas, Recuerdos de Vietnam, El último cabildo de Yemayá, Sobre ébano y canela and many others have been featured in more than 60 one-man exhibitions in the United States, Canada, Latin American, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia and Oceania.
In an interview with Cubaplus, Salas spoke of his work on a new exhibition, which he plans to name Nostalgia y Flores (Nostalgia and Flowers), to be shown April and May 2012 at the Cayman Islands National Gallery.
Salas explained that for the last 10 years he has ventured into experimental combination photography (black and white and color at the same time) trying to use modern processes at will while keeping creativity and intention predominant.