René Peña, born in Havana in 1957 graduated from the University of Havana, specialising in foreign languages (Greek, French, English). Taking his first photograph at the tender age of eight with a family camera, René Peña never received any formal training in photography.
The photographer cites an experience of picking up a book on photography as a means of expression at the age of eight as his main driving influence in pursuing a career in photography.
Though his work has been compared to that of Robert Mapplethorpe on account of his fascination with the black body, René Peña’s main influences are Cuban photographers Eduardo Muñoz Ordoqui and Marta Maria Pérez Bravo, both of whom also work mainly in black-and-white.
René Peña’s work seeks to explore the individual and social groups, he says ‘I am not interested in how the individual tried to be an individual identity but how they can’t escape or separate themselves from social groups, from institutions, institutions that are related to ideologies’.
The photographer’s main interest is seeing how a dialogue with the work is created and how this dialogue is untimely appropriated by the viewer.
Though not from a traditional photography background René Peña’s work captures the essence of the medium, he explains ‘The moment that I take a photo, when I convert an idea which is sometimes shapeless or cannot be explained verbally and I shut myself in with the camera and I enter that frantic moment, that is beautiful, that is the moment for the photograph’.
His work has been exhibited across the U.S.A, Latin America and Europe, partaking in a number of art fairs and biennials.