The unique sensual trace of Juan T. Vazquez Martin
Juan T. Vazquez Martin is a Cuban painter born in 1941 in Caibarien who lives and works in Havana. Recognised at a young age for the lyrical and expressive qualities of his abstract painting, Vazquez Martin continues to enjoy a successful international career as an artist. From 1989-98 he was President of the painting section of the National Union of Cuban Writers and Artists. His work is held in national and international collections including UNESCO in Paris.
The Cuban painter Juan T. Vazquez Martin was born in 1941 and pursued his art studies from 1957-63 in Santa Clara, Cuba, specialising in drawing and painting. As a painter in the 1960s, his early influences were Joan Miro, Paul Klee and Jackson Pollock along with the Spanish ‘matiere’ painters Antoni Tapies and Millares and Cuban abstract/’matiere’ painters Juan Tapia Ruano and Hugo Consuegra.
While still a young artist, his work was recognised by critics and he enjoyed a number of significant successes. In 1962 he was invited to participate in the Sao Paolo VI Biennial in Brazil. In 1964 he held his first solo exhibition ‘Abstract Reality’ in the most important gallery of the time in Havana, showing paintings that already contained matiere elements. In 1969 the National Council of Culture appointed him as delegate to the exhibition ‘Young Cuban Painting’ and he travelled to various Eastern European and Asian countries.
Following graduation, Vazquez Martin pursued a teaching career for fourteen years. He held various positions as Director and professor in schools of fine arts in Cuba, including founding the Visual Arts provincial school in Sancti Epiritu. He continued to paint and exhibit and won several prizes during this period. In 1977 he started to work as an independent artist and continues to give occasional lectures and master classes.
Juan T. Vazquez Martin’s pictorial development has pursued subtle themes with sensual and erotic elements, moving fluidly between the abstract and the figurative. He uses a variety of materials, both traditional and modern, working with paints and different fillers to produce textured effects. Sand and powdered marble fillers build up a strong structural element and enhance the optical effects of his paintings. His painting is rich and varied, critical and painstaking in its craftsmanship. A broad, vital spectrum of colour is used, reflecting the lucid and transparent light of tropical countries.
Throughout his artistic career Vazquez Martin has remained true to his aesthetic concepts. Line, the use of colour and transparency; his ability to see the real world with the eye of the spirit; his interpretation of the language of abstract art through his personal view of the universe – all these combine to make his work distinctive and recognisable.
The Cuban painter and critic Manuel Lopez Oliva writes:
´Whoever looks at the modern paintings by Juan Vazquez Martin, can recognise in his way of painting the renaissance concept of "the window", the dissolution of forms discovered by Kandinsky and the sense of textural beauty opened up within contemporary painting by the ‘matiere’ artists. His style mixes skilfully the organic with geometry, order and dissonance, precise vision with suggestion. It is a language by itself, syncretic, and carrying a strong, delightful current that is felt when dealing with the implicit possibilities of working with the materials, instruments and procedures of the craft. It is, precisely, the key to his paintings.´
Juan T. Vazquez Martin was elected President of the Painting section of the National Union of Cuban Writers and Artists (UNEAC), in recognition of ‘his valour in defending contemporary painting in Cuba’, an office he held from 1989 to 1998. He is a member of the UNESCO International Association of Art (AIAP). His work is held in a number of prestigious collections of national and international institutions including UNESCO in Paris, the Spanish Office of the European Economic Community, New York and the National Museum of Fine Arts in Havana, Cuba.
Vazquez Martin has shown in group exhibitions in Cuba, USA, Italy, Spain, Nicaragua, Denmark, Chile, Czechoslovakia, Colombia, Algeria, Brazil and the UK. Solo shows have been held in the UK, Cuba and Azerbaijan. He was among a group of Cuban painters invited to the UK in 2000 for a project supported by Visiting Arts, the Forest Artists Network Cuban Exchange in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire. The artists held workshops in local schools and Juan Vazquez Martin gave a lecture on Cuban art at the Chapter House of Gloucestershire Cathedral at the opening of the exhibition which toured to a number of regional venues.
Juan T. Vazquez Martin was born in 1941 in Caibarien, Cuba. His fine art studies began in 1957 at the Leopoldo Romanach School of Art in Villa Clara, Cuba. He graduated as a teacher of drawing and painting in 1963 and until 1977 he pursued a teaching career as professor and director of various schools of Fine Arts in Cuba. Since then he has worked as an independent artist, exhibiting widely and gaining critical attention for the textural beauty of his abstract paintings. He lives and works in Havana, Cuba. He was elected President of the Painting section of the National Union of Cuban Writers and Artists (UNEAC), an office he held from 1989 to 1998. Vazquez Martin has won a number of prizes and his work is held by various national and international institutions and in private collections in Cuba and abroad.
National Museum of Fine Arts, Havana
Galeria La Acacia, Havana
National Union of Cuban Writers and Artists
UNESCO collection, Paris
Spanish Office of the European Economic Community, New York
Latin American Art Collection, Essex University, UECLAA, England
GROUP EXHIBITIONS (Selected)
Exhibition / Installation
2002 Cuban Visual Art, Hilton Hotel, London
2002 Cuban Visual Art, University of Southampton, UK
2002 Exhibition at Trail Artists Colony, Tampa, Florida, USA
2001 ´Cuban Painting´, Cuba 513 Gallery Madrid
2001 ´Cuban Painting´, several galleries, Italy
2000 ´Six Cuban Artists´, Gloucestershire Cathedral (& other venues), UK
1999 ´Alive Abstraction´, Wifredo Lam Centre, Havana, Cuba
1995 ´Cuban Painters´, Social Development Summit and Head of States Meeting, Copenhagen, Denmark
1992 Cuban stand at World Fair, Seville, Spain
1986 VI Triennial of India, New Delhi
1962 VI Biennial, Modern Art Museum, Sao Paolo, Brazil
SOLO EXHIBITIONS (Selected)
Exhibition / Installation
2000 ´Show in Blue´, Nelson Museum, Monmouth, Wales, UK
2000 ´Ancient Stones of Cricklade´, Vale Hotel Gallery, Cricklade, England, UK
1998 ´Life´s Happiness´, Jilian Morales Art Gallery, Camaguey, Cuba
1996 ´In spite of all, I continue painting´, La Acacia Gallery, Havana, Cuba
1997 First Prize, ´WineArt 97´ competition, label for the first Cuban wine
1988 First and Special Prize, ´July 26´ competition, Revolution Museum, Havana
1987 Special Prize for Painting, I Biennial ´Juame Guash´, Spain
1986 First Prize for Drawing, ´13 March´, Havana University
1976 First Prize for Painting, National Hall of Plastic Art, Ministry of Culture, Matanzas Gallery, Cuba