Nestor Martí. Portraits, thoughts and the soul of a city
By Roxana Consuegra, Photos: courtesy of Néstor Martí
Conveying emotions, breaking through mental inertia and stimulating reflective exercise are maxims of Néstor Martí’s artistic career. Capturing the essence of Havana, her eclecticism; her history wrapped in facades, motifs, walls and cobblestones, the energy of her people, her unique smell and sounds, is another leitmotif for the architect. Subjective, intangible elements, difficult to represent, unraveling according to the sensitivity of the viewer.
A scholar of the traditional techniques of photography as well as current ones, his work reveals the practical and yet romantic vision of this art. The constant experimentation is in function of the precise moment, achieved when the lens, gaze, luck and the shutter coincide in time and space and produce the ideal result.
His work covers a multiplicity of themes and inspirations, while his snapshots carry the gift of polysemy. So, numerous series make up his dossier. In some, the artist becomes the leading actor in self-portraits in the face of the impact of technology. Remote Controller, To have control and Selfportrait Under Control examine man’s dependence on gadgets designed for his supposed freedom.
Meanwhile, others feature the silhouette of his Sombras encontradas of a where, in an act of selfdiscovery and personal recognition. Meanwhile, some works from the Mares adyacentes series and others belonging to the selection of photos the author calls Blanco y Negro show the recurrence of the shadows recreated in different areas of Havana.
This city seduces and grabs you. Fascinated by architecture, he devotes a great part of his work to the pursuit of extolling the city’s spirit, a passion that converts his pieces into reflections of centuries of tradition in the light of the current day.
Indeed, Néstor Martí is a prolific creator, whose gaze stops not on the transcendental, but on those details that possess the quality of being identifiable by a symbol. Hence, a face, an icon, a decorative element or a panoramic view illustrates the essence of the Cuban capital. In this sense, La luz de La Habana and Imágenes de La Habana are albums that compile images like carefully constructed postcards of the city. Another aspect of his creation is closely linked to the publishing world. Around 2006 a group of portraits taken of male torsos from behind, entitled La Isla, served to illustrate the book by Roberto Fernández Retamar Cinco poemas griegos published by editorial Boloña. The portraits contain images projected of pebbles, textures and iconic landscapes of Havana.
In this way he moved towards what would become his work dedicated to documental and historical recording of the buildings and life of the city. He was co-author along with Chip Cooper on the photos of La Habana Vieja: el espíritu de la ciudad viva (editorial University Alabama Press, 2011) and later was responsible for the photography of the book Havana Modern, 20th Century Architecture and Interiors (editorial Rizzoli, 2014). Recently he shared with architect Madeline Menéndez García the creation of the volume El Vedado, tradición y modernidad en la arquitectura habanera (editorial Boloña, 2020) with exquisite photographic work.
A graduate in History of Art from the University of Havana and photographer of the Office of the City Historian for more than two decades, Néstor Martí offers the public a wide spectrum of work resulting from his talent. His professional performance goes hand in hand with his artistic challenges, because one depends on the other.
His work is his passion. Through this he develops his creative path with complete spontaneity, with the stamped imprint that characterizes him. Settings, focuses, double exposures and inlays are combined with visuals decolonized by his gaze in portraits, thoughts and the soul of a city.
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