Rolando Pulido dies, the designer of the Cuban dissidence
He designed sets for Saturday Night Live and the graphics for the legendary Strand bookstore in New York, but his work was also political.
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Rolando Pulido died too soon, at the age of 58 in a hospital in the Bronx, New York. He did so surrounded by numerous friends, such as the exiled writer Orlando Luis Pardo, who wrote a tribute on Facebook:
"Grateful from the heart for all the solidarity we conveyed to him until the end," he wrote.
The designer and artist, Pulido died last Friday, Jan. 15, after a long struggle and a fundraising campaign from his friends to help him pay the costs of physical therapy at home.
But the memory of him is as one of the most brilliant Latinx designers to come from the island.
Born in Cienfuegos, Cuba, Pulido left the country in the 1980s during the Mariel exodus, one of the greatest migrations of the 20th century. However, as he explained in numerous interviews, his departure caused a massive rejection in his home country.
"The Cuba that I knew had not pleased me one bit. It had been the place where, since I was born, they had tried to indoctrinate me with an ideology that I didn't like, that wasn't what my parents would have preferred for me," he explained years later.
A country, he said, where a foreigner had more right to be free than a national and it was forbidden for him to "touch its soil."
However, New York was where Cuban designer's career had its take-off between skyscrapers. He did numerous works that would forever mark the city's cultural image, such as the design of the Blue Note Jazz Club, Cooper's Bar, the Strand bookstore and even some of the sets for Saturday Night Live.
With the rise of the Internet and the opening of Cuba to cyberspace, Pulido saw an opportunity to regain, albeit virtually, his contact with the island through activism in 2007 with the design of virtual campaigns and logos linked to the boom of the blogosphere.
His fierce denunciation in social media of the lack of democracy in Cuba was a loudspeaker for many Cuban reporters:
"For many years I looked for the most effective way to denounce the atrocities happening in Cuba on the part of the government, and I found that it was through my graphic work," said the artist. "Today, thanks to the internet, I can share my work with other Cubans in many parts of the world, even from within the island, and make projects together."
His aesthetic and visual activism, full of rage, pain and solidarity with the island where he was born and to which he no longer returned, is his greatest legacy.