José Manuel Fors was born in Havana in 1956. The artist graduated in painting from La Academia de Bellas Artes San Alejandro in 1976, later studying at the Institute of Museology in Havana in 1986. After finishing San Alejandro, Fors went on to work at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes as a museologist for 10 years, the artist claims that his time there played a pertinent role in the development of his work and his heightened awareness of manipulating spaces. Fors featured in the watershed exhibition Volumen I in 1981. The historical exhibition welcomed a new generation of ground-breaking Cuban artists to the national and international art scene.

Although trained as a painter, Fors quickly broke through the limitations he felt the medium imposed on him, experimenting with installation and photography. Enjoying the effects of photography on some of his earlier installation pieces such as La Tierra. Casa Con Hojarasca, Fors centred his oeuvre around the medium and quickly became one of Cuba’s most important photographers. His work La Tierra. Casa Con Hojarasca completed in 1982 consisted of three different mediums, performance, installation and photography—all executed ahead of his time. In his work, Fors sought to contemplate the state of the passage of time, found in the disorder of the room and piles of dried leaves. This theme formed the backbone of his first solo exhibition, Acumulación (Accumulations) in 1983.

Fors has historically focused his work on an exploration of memory and nature. His work traditionally holds an intensely personal narrative and frequently features much of Fors’ ancestors, family and friends, living or dead. As seen above, Fors also uses his photography to capture lasting accounts of his transient installations. It is in this way that Fors connects his two central themes of memory and nature.

Fors is not only a widely revered character in Cuba, he has exhibited internationally and can be found in the collections of the many established galleries and private collections, globally. Amongst some of these collections are the Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles), Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles), The Museum of Fine Arts (Houston), and the Fundacion Museo de Bellas Artes (Caracas, Venezuela). 

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