Saturday, October 20, 2012

Juan T. Vazquez Martin @ HCC Ybor

National Hispanic Heritage Month is acknowledged by the arts community here with several exhibits by Hispanic artists, mostly Cubans. HCC Ybor is showing the work of the Cuban Master Abstract painter Juan T. Vazquez Martin.

It was a spirited opening night, with Juan doing live painting to classical music being played by a pianist. As much of a performance piece as it was a live paint, with the artist, who is in his 70's, painting, conducting, dancing and doing percussion in between painting with the butt of his brush. All the time Vazquez Martin was intently focused on his painting, shown below.

Work in progress by Juan T. Vazquez Martin
Vazquez Martin lives in Havana Cuba but he and his work travel and show internationally in places like Austria, London, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina & Ireland. Mong his influences, he lists Pablo Picasso, Paul Cezanne, Joan Miro, Paul Klee, Jackson Pollock, Antoni Tapies y Millares, Juan Tapia Ruano, Hugo Consuegra and the Abstract Expressionists from the US.

J. Martin Vazquez, "Con Intenciones"

On the left is "Con Intenciones" (With Intentions), a 21 x 39 inch acrylic on canvas. Note the trio of layered subframes and although it is hard to see in the photo, click to enlarge to see the textures in it. Some appear to be bits of paper (Vazquez Martin has made his own paper) but there are subtler textures that come from mixing sand or marble dust into the paint. The color contrast between the light blues and the slightly orange background and how they play off each other depending on the densities of blue is wonderful. The superimposed subframes for me imply a sequence or passage, perhaps a rite of our subconscious. 

Vazquez Martin's "Tu me guias entre las asombradas analgas al despertar" (You guide me between the amazed seaweeds upon waking) poetic and enigmatic title adds to the abstraction in this painting. In this acrylic on canvas, 39x31 inches, we see the subframes, again overlaid in triplicate, but there's more. connections to a separate frame or window below with yet another rectangle within, curtain-like dark sections vertically along the side edges. These layerings, connections and superpositions are like a narrative of the subconscious.

The artist's story is tied to that of his native country. During a lecture after the opening, he mentioned having to improvise during the Quinquenio Gris (Dark five years) when suppression of art and a dearth of materials made it extraordinarily difficult to make art. Juan traced the history of abstraction in art and specifically in Cuba, and his place in that timeline, a perfect and contextually rich ending to the opening of the show.

Juan T. Vazquez Martin

Congratulations to Juan T. Vazquez Martin, Carolyn Kossar and HCC Ybor for bringing this cultural treasure to Tampa in a show with historical and local cultural relevance.

--- Luis

 Hillsborough Community College's Art Gallery is located in the Performing Arts Building Room 114 on the Ybor City Campus located at 2204 N. 15th Street Tampa, FL 33605. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Tuesdays from noon to 7 p.m. The gallery is open to the public, and admission is free for everyone. Click here for a map of the campus. For further information or to arrange special hours, contact Gallery Coordinator, Carolyn Kossar at  or 813-253-7674. 

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