Figueroa has always been an atypical artist endowed with an intense originality. He has avoided photographing the great figures and has preferred to concentrate in the characters on the street...
It is not surprising that Figueroa retakes in the 1990s his splendid series on exile—which he had been working since the 1960s—with new images of fragile vessels in the coast of Cojímar, or offers that extraordinary tribute to all those who died in the attempt of saving themselves from deprivation, with the crosses next to the sea front.
Figueroa has always been an atypical artist endowed with an intense originality. He has avoided photographing the great figures and has preferred to concentrate in the characters on the street, individually or at times together (see, for example, the extraordinary series of the sugarcane workers in Los Tatos, Camaguey, in the great campaign of the 1970 harvest).
In the 1960s, Figueroa carried out a dazzling and vital series of the friends of those years, which is comparable to the best photography or film of the Nouvelle vague of that time and which approaches much more to Liverpool or to San Francisco than to the Sierra Maestra.
When, already in the 1970s, Figueroa approaches in a more determined way to the Revolution, he elaborates an entire series of reportages as Esa bandera (That Flag), Compatriotas (Compatriots), Señor retráteme (Sir, Do My Portrait), El Camino de la Sierra (The Path to Sierra), in which, with a tone of great social optimism
(that, at times, does not forget irony) stands out the great hopes that have awakened. No propagandistic accent. Images that, in a moment in which Cuban and Latin American photography emerge, combine, in the most harmonic way, the modernity with illusion and patriotism. Eliseo Alberto Diego (Lichi) specifies on this last respect that perhaps it has to do with “Friend, the face of the fatherland should be similar, securely similar, to that of us all.”
Art critic Dannys Montes de Oca very cleverly links three series by Figueroa, Angola (1982-1983), Berlin (1990) and New York-Twin Towers (2001). In the third, its originality manifests itself again, moving away from the direct approximation of great events or great figures and indirectly focusing in the essential and revealing aspects linked to those events.
The photos of the war in Angola do not reveal at all the warlike vicissitudes, in the big battles, but simply show the faces of the soldiers and the children. There is the ingenuity, the puerility, the loneliness, the indifference of the Cuban soldiers, always waiting, as that guitarist with bullet holes on the background (Loma de la Leva). Or those Angolan children that are so similar to the ones he had portrayed before in Cuban series.
For its part, New York-Twin Towers deal with the fear and loneliness of the New York streets after the terrible events of September 11.
In ¿Y ahora qué? the classic images of the fall of the Wall and the uncontainable happiness of the Eastern and Western Germans, at last reunified, are replaced by the desolation of the utopia broken into a thousand pieces.