Press Release



January 21 – March 11, 2015
Opening Reception:  Wednesday, January 21, 7-9 p.m.

KCI Gallery
Krause Center for Innovation, Building 4000 (lower level)
Foothill College, 12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills, CA 94022

Ron Herman, 650-949-7082
Lori Thomas, 650-949-7258

The KCI Gallery is pleased to present Raúl Cañibano: Storyteller, the first solo exhibition in the Western United States by internationally acclaimed Cuban photographer Raúl Cañibano. Based in Havana, Raúl Cañibano is a storyteller at heart, and uses the camera to narrate the story of his country, its people and their struggles in the post-revolution era. Through his series, Cañibano’s images tell the tales of everyday Cubans in the city (Chronicles of the City) and in the countryside (Guajira’s Land), and confront the loneliness and abandonment of ageing in Cuba (Sunset). The exhibit will be on view from January 21 to March 11, 2015 at the KCI Gallery, Foothill College. The artist will be here from Cuba to present a lecture on his work Wednesday, January 21, 6:00 pm in Room 1501 at Foothill College, followed by the opening reception from 7:00 – 9:00 pm at the KCI Gallery. Curator Ron Herman will discuss the photographs in the exhibition during a Lunchtime Gallery Talk on Wednesday March 4, 12:00 – 1:00 pm at the KCI Gallery.

Raúl Cañibano (b. 1961, Havana) was trained as a welding technician and was working in civic aviation when his interest in photography first emerged. It was while walking around Old Havana in 1991, that he saw an exhibit by Cuban photographer Alfredo Sarabia, known for working in the style of magical realism. “When I saw Sarabia’s images, I was floored,” said Cañibano. “His photos had such an impact on me that within a few days, I gave my notice to my boss and traded the blowtorch for a camera lens. I became determined to learn to be a photographer instead.” Many of Cañibano’s early documentary photographs were ruined because he was forced to use expired film and chemicals, as they were the only ones available due to a lack of commercial exchange during Cuba’s “Special Period,” following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the socialist bloc in the beginning of the 1990s. Since photography schools did not exist in Cuba at the time, he taught himself by reading books on the topic and studying the basic rules of composition. He found this method of learning boring, so instead he decided to train his eye by looking at great images by the masters of photography and painting, and this helped him to compose his images.

“His images evoke the classic compositions of European and American photographers from the 1930’s, like Walker Evans who also photographed in Havana,” says Ron Herman, Photography Professor at Foothill College and Curator of the exhibition. Cañibano’s use of interesting framing devices and layering of subjects throughout the picture plane are reminiscent of Josef Koudelka and Sebastião Salgado. Cañibano has the intuition to know when to click the camera at the exact moment when the image elements are perfectly positioned within the frame. It’s as if he adapted Henri Cartier-Bresson’s “The Decisive Moment” to fit the intoxicating chaos of Cuba, where a single small space is often utilized for multiple distinctly different purposes. He captures the apex of multiple stories unfolding simultaneously within the same scene, thereby defining “The Decisive Cuban Moment.” He has observed and learned from the masters, but Cañibano developed a uniquely personal style, one that sets him apart and makes his images easily distinguishable from those of his contemporaries.

In an effort to revisit the experiences of his childhood, Cañibano started the series Guajira’s Land in 1999. He returned for months at a time to the rural part of the island where he grew up, living day to day with the farmers and experiencing the same joys and difficulties that they did. His history in the community and familiarity with his subjects rendered his camera invisible which enabled him to capture unguarded moments in the daily lives of these rural farmers. The result is a compassionate point of view. “I believe I am a visual narrator,” says Cañibano, “I am narrating my place and my time in a very personal way. In 1999 he won the Gran Prix in the Cuban National Photography Exhibit for his Guajira’s Land series. “This project has an anthropological element,” he says, “because my intent is to document a way of life and customs that may be lost with the passage of time and change that society is experiencing as it develops.” In 2000 he was one of eleven photographers selected for the exhibition, 50 Years of Cuban Photography, at the Royal National Theatre in London, which showcased the work of the most significant Cuban photographers after the triumph of the revolution. Cañibano currently lives and works in Havana.

The exhibit is located in the KCI Gallery, on the lower level of the Krause Center for Innovation, Building 4000, at Foothill College 12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills, CA 94022. Please park in Lot 4. Parking is $3.00 (quarters or $1 bills only). Disabled parking in Lot 4-B. KCI hours of operation are Monday – Friday: 8:30 am – 6:30 pm; Saturday: 9:00 am – 4:30 pm; Closed Sundays and for holidays on Jan 19 and Feb 13, 16.

For more information on the exhibit please visit:

Full resolution photos available.  Please contact:  
Ron Herman, 650-949-7082.


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