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...

Art On Cuba - - Looking Aside -

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. ƒ

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