José Manuel ForsJardín, 2010
Installation, variable dimensions
The Ruses of an Archeologist
When the time comes to talk about the artists of memory, collectors of stories and alchemists of past in Cuban art history, it will be necessary to mention irrevocably José Manuel Fors, who received this year the National Award of Visual Arts. His oeuvre emerged in the heat of the eighties and since then, Fors has known how to create in it an authentic discourse full of artistic finds and richness of meaning, in which photography has become the ideal medium to express the artist’s concerns. However, there is much more behind every picture or artwork itself: Fors’s work is not the one of a simple chronicler; it is the work of an insatiable researcher and a compulsive collector.
Beyond photography, this Cuban creator is passionate about objects and their disposition in space, objects that contain memories, marks from the past, also affections, impressions, sensations… The act of creation for this master is not only the action of pressing the shutter; it is the process of searching and then, the reconstruction of a story that will not be the same after having passed through the filter of the artist’s subjectivity.
Perhaps what defines the best the work of José Manuel Fors is the concept of accumulation, as every artwork created by his hands is made up of thousands of fragments, of micro stories that shape a larger narration. That is how some of his bets artworks are structured, in which he reveals his versatility as an artist. One of the most remarkable examples of his artistic work is currently placed at the Palacio del Marqués de San Felipe y Santiago de Bejucal Hotel, which is located in Old Havana. This artwork deserved the Award of the Biennale of Vessels in 2011.
The artwork is an installation of colossal dimensions, placed on the top of one of the walls of the building and it is made up of little tesserae that shape a fragmented circle. A vocation for craftsmanship is discerned behind Fors’s careful work to the making of this artwork, a sense of the manufacture and an elegance that have distinguished his work since the early years of his artistic endeavors, and which are even nowadays part of his hallmarks. Despite the effort and the dedication these artworks demand, the master has continued producing them; he usually makes them to order, and he is not afraid of repetition, since not only each artwork keeps the author’s singularity, but they also have the very essence of the place where they are located.
Along with the monumental size of the great circles, the visual poetry and density of metaphor are perceptible. They enclose all the balance that exists between what is natural and what is built, what is original in the world and what is artificial, always from the coexistence and the harmonious dialogue; never from the irreconcilable duality. This time the disposition of a universe of shapes carefully chosen amazes us, and it includes the hazard, his talent for designing, his profound sensibility concerning the materials and a suggesting ability to turn every texture into a symbol.