New Art Gallery about José Martí

New Art Gallery about José Martí
Fecha de publicación: 
27 May 2023
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Havana boasts a new art gallery to bridge culture and community. We refer to the Jorge Juan Lozano Ros at the José Martí Cultural Society (SCJM), in the central district of El Vedado. It opened for the first time last May 19, celebrating the 128th anniversary of the death in battle of our Apostle.

It is a small place, very intimate, growing, “part of a process of transformation we began at the SCJM as our goal is to promote Martí’s ideals and there we can use art and culture in this regard. We believe the center can become reference for the different public that visit us, either young people, teenagers and senior citizens” — said Niurka Duménigo García, the project manager, who served as Vice-president of the SCJM up until four months ago. She is today Counsellor in charge of the Consular Affairs at the Cuban Embassy in Namibia.

In Niurka’s words, to revitalize the SCJM, the aspirations are much more ambitious. The goal is to create the perfect place to offer workshops for children, teenagers, and young people; targeting these groups of people, which result to be the ones with less presence in the institution. Likewise, she says that “the idea includes, in the long run, the establishment of a library-information center, turn the backyard into an album-café where people can enjoy a live concert. In the same way, we aim to build a cafeteria where besides cupcakes, people can buy CDs, books about Martí and general knowledge. This way, young people can go there and have a great time studying or socializing.”

“So, the art gallery was the foundation stone of this backyard with the purpose of creating a multi-purpose room that works also as a theater or small cinema room. But, in the end, it was not a very big space and we left it that way, and we use it as an art gallery. We dream of promoting materials about Martí and plastic artists. When the SCJM becomes what we now dream, when our home has that cultural relevance, we strongly believe that people will then be interested in exhibiting there, and hence become part of the circuit of art galleries existing in Havana.”


The exhibition opening the Art Gallery was named Martí desde su iconografía. The exhibition addresses our National Hero at various stage in life throughout several pictures that are popular among us, others not so much.

“With 15 medium-format photographs, its organizers wanted to anticipate what will soon be found in a new edition of the book Iconografía martiana, prepared by Gonzalo de Quesada y Miranda, and finished in 1985 by intellectual Pedro Álvarez Tabío” —explains Belkys Duménigo García, text editor, and editorial chief of the Office of Historical Affairs of the Presidency of the Republic.

“Initially, we wanted to make a re-release of that book of photos, —Belkys says — but when we investigated we realized that it had to be a critical edition because the studies after its publication, 38 years ago, clarify many aspects.” Therefore, the new proposal will have more data, rectifications related to the 41 photographs and drawings of Martí, as well as expanded notes on their context.

“Halfway through the work —Belkys confirms— we thought those photos should not remain only in the text, that we could actually exhibit them. We hoped that the book release may be a beautiful activity that would also involve the exhibition, but for different reasons, we have not finished the project that we started in 2013. We endured several periods of inactivity, sometimes due to a shortage of paper, or because other priorities in the office, or for the time of confinement during the Covid-19 pandemic. We aim to finish it this year.”

According to the editor, after arduous investigative work, the goal is that the images worked on become definitively the priority for the use of scholars, the media, and ordinary people, since many published photos of Martí were flipped or cropped, and excluded landscapes, individuals, elements. And these are matters that will be fixed in the next volume and that will be shown at the exhibition Martí desde su iconografía


The Jorge Juan Lozano Ros art gallery owes its name to the renowned intellectual who dedicated his life to studying the history of Cuba and, above all, that of our National Hero. He was a teacher, speaker, researcher, and founded the Office of the Martí Program. His mastery and passion for the Apostle made him a referent for related topics. With his death, on May 20, 2022, Lozano left a huge void and an important work with multiple approaches on the universe of José Martí, so it is not surprising that the SCJM named its gallery after him.

Obviously, we are talking about a man with many professional values, but, above all, as a person. Everyone speaks emotionally to the point of tears, and dedicates the best tribute to him by running out of words to describe him.

“Lozano was the principal investigator of the book project, he was the leader,” says Belkys. He not only investigated but gave his approval, everything that has been done was in coordination with Lozano. On a personal level, he was simple, educated, highly sensitive and respectful; very capable, valuable, with a lot of knowledge about the revolutionary process from Martí to the present. Lozano was very close to Martí, completely dedicated to that study. There was no aspect of Martí's life that he did not master."

Meanwhile, Niurka affirms: “Lozano is an inspiration for us. He left us very quickly and left a very original creative trail in the Marti’s world. He was a teacher in every sense of the word and boasted an ethical code that is that of Martí. He was always very consistent with what he proclaimed, he was very special. I think it was very wise to bring the memory of Lozano to the gallery of the SCJM. He is part of everything since the very beginning and he worked meticulously on that iconography project, he investigated each photo, and that book that is going to come out will be very superior to the previous ones because it is not a calm edition, but corrected and greatly expanded with new data.”

“Lozano was a magnificent person, a very good human being. When I found out that the gallery would take his name, I told myself that it was fair, an excellent idea, the most beautiful act. He would never have imagined it. As his co-worker, I am very happy that it was like that, and grateful”— Belkys says.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Díaz / CubaSí Translation Staff

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