Hidalgo, Ricardo Porro (1925–2014) By López, Alberto José-Antonio
Best known for his involvement in the design of the National School of Art (1961–1965), Ricardo Porro’s work in Cuba marks a brief-lived yet spiritually lingering venture into a figurative modernism. Abandoning the rational and functional tendencies of his early training, Porro embarked on a project beginning in the late 1950s that sought to find a formal means of expression that challenged the abstract modernism of the period by incorporating gestures of an often romantic symbolism. Rising to prominence in the local design community at a time when cubanidad (the cultural spirit and expression of Cuban-ness) was a matter of impassioned debate, Porro challenged the accepted notion of Spanish-colonial primacy in the modern movement’s historical yearnings, advocating a criollo (culturally mixed) artistic tendency. In addition, he became a vociferous proponent for the cultivation of Cuba’s “black tradition,” a stylistic notion present in the Afro-Cuban vernacular as well as the island’s artistic vanguard. As Porro and the unfinished Schools of Art fell out of favor with the Revolution, the young architect had no choice but to leave his native country in order to continue practicing his art. He entered into exile in 1967 when he left for Paris. He continued to design, now in partnership with Renaud de la Noue.