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Series “Contrasts”

…José Martí (b 1953). For example, is obviously fascinated with textures, and his series “Contrasts” is a striking exercise in semi-abstraction, using extreme close-ups and minimal lighting. But he also concentrates on the familiar humanist repertirie of hands, eyes and tears.

By Kevin Jacksor, The Arts & The Information Daily. London, 21 September 2000.


...One of the photographers in this exhibition shares his name with the Nineteenth Century poet rebel, José Martí, and his images are poetic in a visual sense…

Paul Ryan, (has written and lectured widely on photography)
Catalog Cuba Sí! 50 Years of Cuban Photography.
September, 2000.


…Not so the cane cutters shot by José Martí. Most of the pictures are blurred, creating a kind of abstracted, realism, and evoking the workers’ swiftness and skill.

….Martí, who spent a season shooting sugarcane cutters, was struck by the grace and breakneck seed with which they wielded their machetes, Lopez said. “You don’t see the hard work”, he said. “You see the poetry and dance in movement.”….

By Jan Sjostrom, Daily New Arts Editor
Palm Beach Daily News, Tuesday, November 19, 2002


…“José Martí, Serie En movimiento: Marti who spent a season shooting sugarcane cutters, was stuck by the grace and breakneck speed with which they wielded their machetes, Lopez said: “You don’t see the hard work,” he said. “You see the poetry and dance in the movement.”

By Jan Sjostrom, Daily News Arts Editor,
Palm beach Daily News, Tuesday, November 19, 2002.


The Cornell Museum of Art & History at Old School Square Cultural Arts Center in Delray Beach presents FOTOfusion 2003, an exhibition of international photography and digital imaging, in partnership with Palm Beach Photographic Centre.

Now celebrating its eighth year at Old School Square, the exhibition is presented as part of Palm Beach Photographic Centre’s weeklong FOTOfusion 2003 Festival.(jan. 21-25). Five different photographic exhibits will be housed in both the Cornell Museum and Theatre galleries from jan. 16 through March 16.

Cuba Today is exhibit of stirring socio-political images, both color and black-and-wbite, that shows a cross-section of Cuba culture. Many of the native Cuban artists are widely known, including internationally recognized documentary photographer,… “José Martí, whose focus on sugar cane workers and the Saffra season show the movement of cane cutting as a dance in the fields”.

Special Marketing Section. PB – society line. South Florida Sun- Sentinel,
Monday, January 13, 2003


One man alone doesn´t make a sugar crop.

...There is no sugar crop without movement. The new photography about the zafra can’t get lost in the images of the material world of filthy, worn out and wasted clothing and hardened skin, but express the very essence of that kind of work which despersonalize the man until make him into a thoughtless machine…

…That´s why Martí wants to give us the feeling and emotion in abstract more than an avalanche of concepts and reflections about sugar crop. He gives us an example of how the zafra was in the beginnings, with improvisation and the gesture of making piles of sugar cane, to build and action going from the mechanical and irrational to the most sublime and outstanding.

Mabel LLevat Soy, Crítica y curadora de la Fototeca de Cuba.
Catalogo, Exhibición”En movimiento”, 8va Bienal de la Habana
Nov/Dec. 2003


From Muybridge to José Martí.

When he was trying to create the image in movement, that is to say, the genesis of cinematography, the English-American Edward Muybridge photographed nude women jumping and horses in full gallop. It was an initial attempt to capture movement, it’s sequence, and study that fleeting itinerary that is produced in just fractions of a second. This was at the end of the nineteenth century.

More than a hundred years later, at the dawning of another century, the recognized artist of the lens José Julián Martí carries out the operation in reverse: instead of deconstructing movement, he is trying to freeze it in a single image. With luck, the violence of the swipe of the machete against the stalk of sugar cane is trapped in a beautiful photographic image.

“In Movement” is an exhibition sui generic. It contradicts the most general practice of contemporary Cuban photography and, in fact, becomes an experimental exercise. Martí again confirms his quality and professionalism as a photographer, as a maker of photographic images.

At times he stops a detail or element of the image but leaves the rest that the lens captured in the opacity produced by the movement. It is interesting, this experiment.

As for the rest I will add that all those who have cut cane, with all that implies (to sharpen the machete or mocha, to cut your skin with the sharp blades, to bend your body constantly toward the ground, etc.) will stir in your memories old images, some of which will be identical to these which are offered to us by the talent of José Julián.

Rafael Acosta de Arriba
Presidente del Consejo Nacional de las Arte Plásticas de Cuba
Texto de catalogo, Exhibición”En movimiento”, 8va Bienal de la Habana
Octubre 2003