The Ways of Existing on a Magical Island: In American Traveler Photographs

By Lázaro David Najarro Pujol / Photos courtesy of the artist

Cuba has a magic that enchants, admires and inspires artists and travelers from all continents. The secret lies in the hospitality and idiosyncrasy of the inhabitants of a musical, beautiful island, of fraternal men and women and defenders of their roots…of their sovereignty.

Among the virtuous walkers stands out the American photographer Paul M. Murray, who year after year returns to the nation of the four archipelagos to capture with the lens of his camera the vibrancy, the smile and the love of his people.

Paul visited the Queen of the Antilles for the first time in December 2012. He got to know Havana and the beauties of Viñales. «I didn’t know much about Cuba.» He was so surprised and excited by that overflowing joy that a camera at the ready captured that visual testimony. “I didn’t know much about Cuba but I was interested in seeing, learning and understanding more about the culture, the people, life in the city and the countryside. Expand my photography in this country that was new to me. Coincidentally, I had made my first trip to Antarctica about six months earlier. So it was a year of contrast and new adventures for me.”

The artist looks back through the photos of him not only from the island but also from other places as a demonstration of friendship to the Cubans. Images made in Antarctica, or «… places of extreme conditions, where life flourishes, despite all the difficulties, situations of a wild environment and extremely hard to live in…» considered the curator Juan Carlos Mejías Ruíz.

His physical presence on the island could only be interrupted during the more than two years of the covid-19 epidemic that still plagues humanity. However, Murray’s snapshots were shown in exhibition halls in the largest of the Antilles: Camagüey, Santiago de Cuba, Florida and Havana.

Murray, in addition to reflecting the «multiple moments and ways of existing» in Cuba, also fascinates with photographs of unique and revealing architectural, historical landscapes, as well as the intangible heritage: customs, roots, dances and music, inherited from Africans, Spaniards, Asians… who settled in the green Cayman.

“Looking Back”, a collection of photographs by the equally academic are available to viewers in the Gallery of the Provincial Center for Plastic Arts and Design in Havana, one of the seven Wonder Cities of the World.

While the “Cuba In Parallel” project is shared with the Cuban lens artist Adrián Juan, a professor at the University of Camagüey. Both, as Juan Carlos Mejías Ruíz pointed out: «… have created a very pleasant atmosphere of rapprochement, the healthy and friendly exchange produces strong ties and strategic alliances that sooner or later offer results…»

“Cuba In Parallel”, as Mejías points out: is «…the look of two different artists, the result has been quite similar, varied images that go from the historical to the everyday and from the rural to the urban, always going through that island touch that it makes you smell the coffee in the mornings and the breeze at the seashore.”

Las formas de existir en una isla mágica: En fotografías de viajero estadounidense

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