Modern Havana Captured Glamour

/ 4 February, 2015

Havana is beautiful! No doubt about it. But this phrase has already become pure cliché and some won’t even pay attention to such a statement. You go out to the streets and you will be impressed by everything you see, even things which appearances are not so beautiful and which currently are irrelevant to list. But architecture is one of the richest pillars and cultural heritage this city has. Believe me, if it is noticeable through photographs, the pleasure is multiplied.

The Photo Library of Cuba welcomes these days Néstor Marti’s personal exhibition called Habana Moderna. A brief and certainly difficult selection comprises this presentation which is characterized by its admirable quality images, considering that more than 200 photos had been made to illustrate the book “Modern Havana: 20th Century Architecture and Interiors” by the American historian, curator, and antiquarian Michael Connors who is also a professor and consultant of Fine and Decorative Arts. This volume was created under the respectable seal Rizzoli Publications, based in New York.

The result is beyond words. Before a look of the spectator, the feeling of amazement arises. The snapshots captured by Marti’s lens reflect exteriors and interiors of these city significant buildings demonstrating an architectural stamp dominance of the leading styles that proliferated in the last century international context as Art Deco, Neoclassical, Eclecticism or Modern Rationalism and Organic Architecture, where Cuba – Havana in particular- occupied a top place at a global scale. Among these attractions there is the Bacardi majestic building, América Theater, Riviera Hotel, National Museum of Fine Arts, hosting Universal Art and former Asturian Center, Coppelia, etc.

The peculiarity of these snapshots in my view lies in the expertise that its author has incorporated to make them less common or similar among many others. And, as icons of national tangible heritage, every day these sites star in successive visits of those who come to know and, therefore, to take a souvenir captured with the simple click of their cameras.

With trained eyes and a deep knowledge in relation to visual arts and environment in which he operates as a photographer of the Historian Office, Néstor Martí knows that the key to success lies precisely in being different capturing the same, even those that he is accustomed to see and photographs.

Originality is the one thing that haunts every good artist. Therefore he chooses recherche angles at turning the camera or trapped image, details of architectural elements or environmental design such as stairs, benches, walkways, lamps, balconies, in constant harmony with the space and making full use of the conformation of lines and shapes. The use, or rather, discovery of lights that produce extraordinary figures and, at times, show flirtation with the most limpid abstraction in each shot management of the perfect light, the essence of photography. All of which is complemented to achieve the final product, the one we want always to observe whether in an excellent book, magazine, catalog, or the unmistakable delivery of a masterpiece.

Alain Cabrera

Alain Cabrera

(Havana, 1980) Graduate in Art History from the Faculty of Arts and Letters at the University of Havana in 2008. From then until now he serves as editor of the magazine Artecubano, art critic and photographer. His writings have been published in national and international publications including Artecubano magazine, the tabloid Noticias de Artecubano and the critics’ website Saloncritik (created by José Luis Brea).

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