For Cuban sculptor Tomás Lara, the greatest compliment he can expect from someone watching his work is not to have it considered expressive, beautiful or striking, but rather interesting, because according to him, it would mean that the piece of art was capable of motivating and getting that person involved in the creation.
With a degree from the San Alejandro Art Academy in 1976 and five years later from the Higher Institute of Art (ISA) of Havana, combined with a background in artistic foundry in Loveland, Colorado, USA, Lara has strong academic training that he has been constantly enriching for over 30 years through work, study and teaching; all of which he considers essential to maintain the highest standards and be able to critique one's own work.
We met at his home in Cojímar, a picturesque coastal town to the east of Havana. Lara started by telling me about his preparations for a solo exhibition planned for later this year which will showcase not only sculptures but also drawings and paintings.
In 2012, Lara also has plans to participate in a joint exhibition, exhibiting large sculptures together with seven other artists in a tribute to the centennial of the late Cuban sculptor Rita Longa, author of works such as the white marble sculpture Forma, Espacio y Luz (Shape, Space and Light), located at the entrance of Havana's National Museum of Fine Arts, the Ballerina statue, which identifies the famous Tropicana Cabaret, and the Bosque de los Héroes (Forest of Heroes), located in the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba.
The exhibition will be hosted in April at the gardens of ISA's Fine Arts School as part of the exhibition program of Havana's Eleventh Biennial, the famous contemporary art show open this year from May 11 to June 11.
Lara's work as a creator, reflected in many exhibitions in galleries throughout Cuba and abroad, has experienced a few important moments with two personal exhibitions, Sujetadores (Bras) and Ferramenta, organized in 2000 and 2009 respectively in Havana galleries.
In Sujetadores, the artist presented a series that use two contending yet complementary elements which was a new concept for him. One was metal, an allegory of industrial development and therefore of humanity, and the other was organic material such as wood and marble.
Lara explained that metal is the holding material while the one held is organic, so that there is no imbalance between antagonists and a dialogue can be reached, such as yin and yang, white and black, good and bad, weak and strong.
With these exhibitions, the sculptor pays a tribute to his father, a carpenter, who taught him his skills initially, as well as to respect and know materials such as wood.