Abstract

Lies, Waiting, 2005 - María Martinez-Cañas

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Description: Ed. 1/3
Materials Archival pigment print on watercolor paper

Size: 34 x 25 IN

86.4 x 63.5 CM

Vendor:Maria Martinez-Cañas, Cuban - American, b. 1960

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Maria Martinez-Cañas, Cuban - American, b. 1960

The intricate tapestry of Cuban-American identity forms the underlying foundation of Maria Martínez-Cañas's early photography. In these formative years, she embarked on a profound exploration of the conceptual geography of her family's heritage and her native country experienced through the prism of exile. Notably, her series "Fragment Pieces" (1981-1982), a bridge between her studies at the Philadelphia College of Art and her initial year at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, encapsulates the abstract representation of autobiography using imagery and symbols.

In "Fragment Pieces," Martínez-Cañas skillfully amalgamated 2¼-inch negatives, capturing intricate details of trees from her mother's home in Miami—the cradle of Cuban America. These visual elements were interwoven with marks she delicately scratched onto the surface of the prints. These marks, evoking the lines of a polygraph test or an electrocardiogram, allude to her profound connection with music and her innate ability to engage in visual listening. This affinity for music was previously showcased in a book she created, one year prior, based on her visual response to a violin concerto.

The three horizontal patterns in "Fragment Pieces" held a deeply personal significance, drawing inspiration from her father's oscilloscope—a device designed to visualize sound. These patterns also conjure memories of musical salons from her childhood in Puerto Rico. In 1982, Martínez-Cañas exhibited thirteen silver-gelatin prints from the "Fragment Pieces" series alongside works from the "Map Series" at the Museum of Modern Art of Latin America, a significant accolade facilitated by José Gómez Sicre, who hailed her as an already "highly original artist of the lens." Martínez-Cañas articulated the essence of "Fragment Pieces" at the time, noting, "The 'fragment pieces' are the conclusion of earlier work. In this process, I relate abstract patterns, shapes, and forms, combining them with conventional images that are torn apart. By doing this, I am exposed to a polarity: tradition-abstraction. The 'fragment pieces' are light drawings done by hand gestures; they represent a fragment of human energy."

Maria Martínez-Cañas was born in Havana in 1960 and left Cuba during that same year with her family, eventually settling in Puerto Rico four years later. Her artistic journey began in 1968 when she started working with a Polaroid Swinger camera, culminating in her inaugural exhibition at Galería Aboy in San Juan in 1977. Her formal artistic education commenced at the Philadelphia College of Art from 1978 to 1982, a period that witnessed the birth of "Fragment Pieces" and "The Map Series." A Fulbright-Hays grant recipient in 1985, Martínez-Cañas relocated to Spain, where she crafted her first negatives based on maps of colonial Cuba, meticulously unearthed from libraries and archives in Madrid, Seville, and Valladolid. In 1988, she received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the CINTAS Foundation. Her artistic focus remained tethered to Cuba and the exile experience until 1996, as evidenced by series such as "Totems Blancos" (inspired by the work of Wifredo Lam) and "Totems Negros," which intricately wove together imagery from the natural world, pre-Hispanic civilization, and the Spanish conquest. Her expansive creation, "Años Continuos," commissioned by Miami-Dade County Art in Public Places, was installed at Miami International Airport in 1996.

In 1999, Martínez-Cañas ventured into the realm of Diazo photograms with "Traces of Nature," and she continued to experiment with computer-generated imagery for "Hortus" (2001) and "Naturalia" (2002). In 2002, the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale organized a comprehensive retrospective of her illustrious career. Subsequent series, such as "Lies" (2005), "Adaptation" (2006), "Tracing" (2007), and "Duplicity as Identity" (2008-2009), have persistently probed the limits and veracity of the photographic medium, expertly melding her autobiographical journey with the photographic archive once curated by José Gómez Sicre, now under her stewardship.
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