José Manuel Fors: El olfato en la mirada…

José Manuel Fors: Intuition in the Eyes…

Last modified: February 10, 2023

Photography today is confronted from different angles. José Manuel Fors (Havana, 1956), is not a photographer in the traditional sense of the word. He reconstructs the image from caught documents, and manipulates the perceptive experience that reaches a point between abstraction-imagination, leaving at the end an interesting photographic vision of painting that plays with the time and the memory of man.

He studied painting at San Alejandro Academy and graduated in 1976. In 1986, he graduated from the Museology Institute of Havana; one day he stopped ordering the photographic technology and began to “construct” it. In it he superimposes diverse elements: objects from familiar scenes, all tightly joined to nature. Alone, his images may say nothing. The communication is established when he gathers some of them in a mosaic (collage) like in a painting, he captures in a picture fine details of the memory’s forgotten time (basis of his work), translated into the erosion of the things and the surrounding nature.
In his installations José Manuel Fors (National Prize of Plastic Arts, 2016) gathers pieces of photos, bundles of memories and all kinds of objects because, although he is known as a photographer, he works a lot with volume. His artistic work raises as collage or assemblages of objects/images, which at the beginning he composed with a design for the photography. Nowadays, his creations invert this postulate and he “models” installations as if they were photographs…

The work of this artist perspires a strong conceptualist charge; to situate him in the panorama of the Cuban photography we should quote the investigator José Antonio Navarrete, who defined Fors back in 1993 as a rara avis within this conglomeration. “I was educated as a painter and in this I find my way of working the photography. I am from the generation of the 80’s, a period in which the artists assimilated photography as a means, and it was fundamental to which is happening with it today” –said the artist.

When Fors speaks about how the artistic or advertising dimensions of the photography are perceived today, he states that we are living in a world of images, and these are the principal means of communication. “The camera has a leading role in this universe, even for the artistic creation”. And we must add that along with the memory theme, the fragmentation and the accumulations of every kind are the basis that feed his creative work. He also finds inspiration in literature, for many of his creations, specifically in the works of famous Cuban authors like Dulce María Loynaz and Eliseo Diego. Many of their verses are transformed into titles, which contribute to the originality of his conceptual proposals. He is, undoubtedly, a creator who constantly explores the spatial borders.

Among other important awards he has got the Gold Medal of the 49th International Photographic Salon of Japan (Tokyo, Japan, 1988).

Toni Piñera
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Journalist for more than 30 years at the Granma newspaper, art and dance critic, professor at the National Academy of Fine Arts San Alejandro, curator of Cuban art exhibitions (former director of the La Acacia gallery, Havana), poet.

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