Cuban artist Jose Manuel Fors has tried to rewrite the silenced, fragmented history of his generation in Cuba, through his reconstruction of memories, of what “Beauty” he was able to save. With his photographic work and his Objects, Fors has created a metaphorical language to reconstruct the identity and social memory that were taken away from him by political interests alien to him and to his generation in Cuba. His work comes from minimalism, recycling and repurposing  objects, where fragments become his autobiographical statements.

His dissatisfaction with traditional means of art made it possible for experimentations with objects and installations to become among his most used resources to reconstruct scenes from his memories. In Fors's work, we can find photographs tied together, painted leaves trapped in transparent cubes, broken ceramics transformed into a new medium, pages of books turned into entire libraries, and incomplete stories behind it all. This accumulation of distorted factual evidence demonstrates the selective nature of memory, and its ability to save truly momentous events. Fors, like Granger, found light in the age of Darkness because he knew how to reinvent himself again and again in each of his works’ fragments.


Jose Manuel Fors was born in 1956 in Havana, Cuba. He attended the San Alejandro Academy and the Institute of Museology, both in Havana, Cuba. Fors has exhibited internationally in the United States, Spain and Japan. His work can be found at the collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles); Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles); The Museum of Fine Arts (Houston); The Museum of Fine Arts Havana and at Fundacion Museo de Bellas Artes (Caracas, Venezuela), among others.

Fors was a member of the legendary Volumen I (Volume I), and participated in their first exhibition in 1981 with an installation. During the Eighties, Fors produced installations that were ground-breaking for the Cuban context, and these are perhaps his best known works. Working with natural materials, such as leaves, was a challenge at a time, when something like that was not generally considered art in his country. His installations and other works of this period leaned towards a more conceptual approach. Instead of the universal and trite symbols of time, Fors chose decadence, as a metaphoric image through his dried leaves accumulations to render the passage of time. This was the backbone of his first solo exhibition titled Acumulaciones (Accumulations) in 1983. In those early years, he was engaged in exploring the concept of the passage of time and the evocative power of memory, and these installations proved to be the ideal visual solutions.

His work has always revolved around memory in one way or another, either through his photographs or his installations. When he began to exhibit in the late Seventies, photography was far from being his technique of choice. He was trained as a painter and his excursions into photography began when he had to photograph some of his installations. He liked the effect and from then on photography became part of the creative process for him.


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