The Julie Saul Gallery is pleased to announce our fourth solo exhibition with Cuban-born, Miami-based artist Maria Martinez-Cañas. Entitled Tetralogy (a compound of four distinct elements), the show encompasses four bodies of work: Lies (2005) Adaptation (2006) Tracing (2007) and Duplicity as Identity (2008/09). This exhibition was originally shown in an expanded form at the Freedom Tower in Miami from December 2009 to February 2010 and is accompanied by a catalog with an essay by Gean Moreno, a Miami artist and writer.
The overriding theme of these series is perception- questioning reality and how things do not always appear as they seem. In Lies, she has taken images from the press and using simple Photoshop techniques has distorted and blurred the images into appearing very different from what they represent. Often the scene is one of tragedy or disaster transformed into something which seems benign, other times the reverse.
In the Adaptation and Tracing series Martinez-Cañas mines photographs from the personal archive of renowned Cuban art curator and critic Jose Gomez Sicre, who was also a family friend. Adaptation uses documentary photographs of museum exhibitions and installations made internationally by Sicre who served with the OAS for many years and curated an important traveling show of Latin American art for MoMA with Alfred Barr. Martinez-Cañas has removed the actual art images from these shots leaving blank frames and empty pedestals- a haunting and enigmatic gesture. In Tracing, Martinez-Cañas has used Sicre's more personal photographs and modified them by blocking out certain areas, overlaying tracing paper and recreating the images in drawings thereby transforming the meaning and structure of the image. The initial works were then morphed once again by scanning and creating an enlarged version on stretched canvas. These works are unique.
The last installment of Tetraology, Duplicity as Identity, is comprised of a series of frontal headshots of Martinez-Cañas and her father, in which their faces are merged in varying degrees of percentages- for example 20% Maria/80% Jose. There are two components here- large photographic images on canvas, and a group of 25 merged portraits on 11 x 14" printing out paper conceived as one work. A final punctuation in the project is a group of unique Polaroid prints which are placed informally on a table top. The images are so subtle and abstract they function like Rorschach tests.
In the prolific career of Maria Martinez-Cañas, Tetraology represents the most personal exploration of issues surrounding her exiled Cuban and family identity. Her unique vision and hard-won ability to merge her explorations of culture and identity combined with her insatiable curiosity about the processes and implications of image-making and photography make her an important artist in the cultural landscape.
Martinez-Cañas has been given many awards and recognitions, most recently a major grant from the "No Strings Foundation". Among the more than sixty public collections which include her work are the Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum, New York Public Library and the International Center of Photography, New York, The Tampa Museum, Saint Louis Art Museum, Art Institute of Chicago, Miami Art Museum, Los Angeles County Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.