The mystical universe of Afro-Cuban religions in Matanzas receives the contemporary look of the young photographer from Matanzas, Leslie Loyola Roque, who with a dossier on this subject participated along with 19 other Cuban talents in the Official Section of PhotoESPAÑA 2020, where a selection was exhibited of the portfolios made in Havana, within the Trasatlántica program.
The artist declares herself to be self-taught, although she has attended workshops and technical courses, and is a lover of all the arts, so the interview is motivating to find out her impressions of the events that have marked her life: “PhotoEspaña is a festival founded by La Fábrica, a forum of specialists in visual arts, curators, gallery owners, collectors, who every year choose a different country and last year they selected Cuba, called new artists and launched a viewing of portfolios, which is one of the activities they carry out, along with exhibitions in capitals and galleries, master’s degrees and master classes.
“They launched a call and notified the National Photo Library to the photographers affiliated or not with the galleries to present their works online, which lasted one year. They did curatorial work and chose 20 artists. We went to the aforementioned viewing with Claude Vousat, Cristina Vives and three Spanish photographers, among them José María Díaz-Maroto.
» According to a report from the Spanish press, issues such as physical space and its relationship with architecture were addressed in the exhibition; the most current trends based on the subjective, gestural and intimate; Documentaryism: the portrait as a photographic genre and of course photography as a reporting tool on issues such as the attack on nature, ecology or history. How many of the chosen are from Matanzas?
«I just, the others are, one from Santiago de Cuba, Edgar Brielo Maranillo Sierra, who works on the native theme, a vision of the coffee harvest in that area and the others from Havana.»
Why did you choose that Afro-Cuban culture theme for your collection? “I moved through all Matanzas’s neighborhoods, more through Pueblo Nuevo, La Marina, Simpson and I appreciated the beauty of those religious exponents, whether they were Arara or Yoruba, and I portrayed initiated children and young believers, they are the disciples: grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
I was in town councils and in private homes, I studied their attributes, I learned to distinguish the pictorial nuances of those places. How many photos did you choose for the portfolio and what are your new projects?
“My show had 20 pieces, which were exhibited at the Biennial of Plastic Arts last year and at the Esquerré gallery, in this city, as well as at Casa América, in Madrid. “I want to maintain that theme, to offer testimony of how religion is being expressed at this time, the 21st century in advance.
I also wish to document the older people, the main people in the councils, who have passed on the tradition and have a lot of knowledge of the legacy of their grandparents and parents. It is an appreciation of how rituals and customs move between families. »
It is interesting to approach this heritage line from photography, where the secret and spiritual strength of its worshipers prevail. New visions of the Matanzas reality, of its culture rich in colors and lights.