René Peña (Rene de Jesus Pena Gonzalez) is a self-taught photographer born in Havana, Cuba in 1957. His photography is characterized by stark contrasts, between black and white, subject and background, subject and object. His work often focuses on the duality between human inability to escape institutionalization and human desire for individualism. His interest in contrast is also reflected in his place of residence: Peña currently inhabits the Cerro neighborhood of Cuba which is home to a mostly poor African-Caribbean population, despite having been an enclave of Havana’s richest families in the 19th century.
René Peña graduated from the Higher pedagogic Institute of Foreign Languages, University of Havana with a specialization in English in 1983. In the late 1980s he entered the national world of photography and since 1990 became leader of the new trends of Cuban photography, first by handling interiors and domestic situations in modern-day Cuba and later making studies of his own body in aspects such as negritude, sexual ambiguity and the influence of consumerism through self-portraits. He conceives his series on the basis of a conceptual, formal and structurally different analysis of all the parameters established up to the present, going from a brutal expressionism to a distinct homoeroticism, with strong mystic elements, trends from experimental painting, and a certain theatrical dramatization.
He has had important solo shows and participated in group exhibitions in Cuba, the United States, Venezuela, Canada, France and Germany. His work is part of important collections, not only national but also at world level, such as the National Museum of Fine Arts, Cuba; the Ludwig Foundation of Cuba; Reinhard Schultz Collection, Germany; photographic archive Toscana, Italy; Southeast Museum of Photography, Daytona, USA; Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, USA; collection of the province of Hainuat, Belgium; and Lehigh University Pennsylvania. Peña lives and works in Havana.
Albuquerque/Journal North – Robert Fantozzi, Flor Garduno, Graciela Iturbide, Rachelle Mozman, Re’e Pe’eIf you are an artistic photographer; to what extent does your home—the place where you live and work—color the intent and result of the portraits you shoot? A group of artists from Mexico, Peru, Panama and Cuba whose photographs explore their subject’s connections to their cultural and geographical context are featured in “Portrait and Place,” […]
PRESS RELEASE – Portrait and Place: Contemporary Latin American PhotographyPortrait and Place: Contemporary Latin American Photography January 30-Febuary 28 SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO – Eight Modern is pleased to announce its upcoming exhibition, Portrait and Place: Contemporary Latin American Photography. Portrait and Place brings together a group of artists from Mexico, Peru, Panama and Cuba whose photographs explore their subjects’ connections, both expected and […]