Eduardo Roca Salazar, most famously known as Choco, was born in 1949 in Santiago, on the 23rd of September. Growing up in a rural part of Santiago, Choco was fully immersed into the Afro-Cuban way of life. After the triumph of the Revolution in 1959, Choco was given an opportunity to study at the Escuela Nacional de Instructors de Arte, at the tender age of 12. Being unable to teach due to his young age, Choco then enrolled at the Escuela Nacional de Arte (la ENA), studying alongside Nelson Dominguez and other great artists from his generation. Tutored by Antonia Eiriz, Choco sites her as the biggest influence on his career along with Armando Posse, whom he continued to study under after frequenting the infamous graphics workshop, the Taller Experimental de Gráfica.

Also considered one of the greatest Cuban engravers of his generation, Choco explains this was due largely to a lack of artistic resources available in Cuba during the 80s. This was then coupled with an opportunity to travel to the US to learn more about the medium. The style became pronounced in his and lithographs work, as well as in his etched and deeply worked painted surfaces. This lack of resources forced the development of his work in callography, a process which is described as being mainly pictorial. Choco explains he first felt as if he was simply painting, using wide brushstrokes and placing all colours on printing plates as if that was the canvas itself. This for Choco was used as an alternative to painting, when lacking materials. Through this technique, Choco achieves remarkable textures that bring forth chiaroscuro and a sensuous depth that tempts viewers to touch the works and gives the appearance of the images being in motion. This is furthered by Choco’s handling of figures in his work, posing them to be swaying, twisting and reaching within the compositions.

Choco’s style, although deeply figurative, has an added abstractionist ‘bubble’ as he calls it. Choco’s art holds, at its core, a deeply Afro-Cuban discourse and symbolism, although the artist attempts to capture the racial diversity of the Cuban population. His figures combine different facial characteristics such as an African mouth with oriental eyes, and a variation of skin tones to portray the universal man, the Cuban man.

Choco has had individual and collective shows across the world including Angola, the US, Mexico, Spain, Tokyo and London, amongst many others. His workshop el Taller del Sol (The workshop of the Sun) is located in the heart of colonial part of Cuba, in Old Havana. The studio receives many collectors and art enthusiasts alike throughout the year, although Choco himself is often amiss, travelling the world with his vibrant works.

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