Rene Peña Cuban, b. 1957

Rene Peña
Havana, 1957

René Peña's work is much more complex and clever than his splendid photographs suggest at first sight. Although it is true that his images hold their own very well, his comments and texts sometimes help to reveal part of this complexity. Pena’s reluctance to be classified as an artist with a special interest in racial problems, for example, is illustrative. In his impressive Man Made Materials series, 1998-2001, Peña focuses on the physical attributes of black people; their skin, noses, lips and buttocks, which racist ideologies have used as “racial markers” and which continue to be used as "inoffensive" stereotypes that identify black people.