Lianet Martínez Pino: a provocative flux

Monumental eyeglasses, made out of objet trouvés; disturbing female faces, placed on canvas that denotes a strong Picasso as well as the surrealist style influence; a spongy bed looking more like is made of stone; a huge bottle of baby milk coated with quills. Erotic bodies made of pigments, pieces of nylon and ceramic dust, a 20 pesos note bearing the effigy of an anonymous, empty, immovable martyr; a string of unpolished stones, monochromatic spheres evoking intellectual fertility, the gestation of ideas… The work by Lianet Martínez Pino (Cienfuegos, 1993 - ) stands out for a marked versatility and a provocative drive that place this young artist among the new creators striving to modify the face of today’s Cuban art scene.


Prueba 1960, 230cm x 90cm (90in x 35in), serigraphy on glass, 2015



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Prótesis, 500cm x 500cm x 190cm (196in x 196in x 74in), recycled objects and steel, commission for the 11th Biennial of Havana, 2012



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Prótesis, 450cm x 360cm x 450cm (177in x 141in x 177in),nails, wire and shaped steel, commission for the 11th Biennial of Havana, 2012


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Prótesis, 600cm x 400cm x 135cm (236in x 157in x 53in), steel, commission for the 11th Biennial of Havana, 2012


Graduated from the San Alejandro National Fine Arts Academy in 2012, Lianet Martínez Pino has managed in her short 24 years of life, to organize three personal exhibitions and to participate in several collective expositions within Cuba and abroad; meanwhile, she is studying at the Visual Arts Faculty of the Higher Institute of Arts (ISA).

In a conversation prior to writing this article, Martínez has defined herself as a provocative nature, who tends to swing between different art techniques and expressions. Therefore, it does not subject the idea to a specific technique; rather, it subordinates the tools to the concept, almost always through a factual promiscuity that can be verified in the large number that is evidenced in the long list of drawings, acrylics on canvas, material paintings, collages, assemblages, performances and photos she has created up to now. However, it is in the sculptural installations that she has conceived her most intriguing propositions. Here are two of her artworks that have drawn my attention, artworks that are apparently antagonistic, addressing issues connected to matters of Cuban identity and gender.


The first artwork is entitled Persisto (I persist) (2013) and in this work, the artist is presented wrapped in a hanging rope that extends along and around her body as if she was a chrysalis (a butterfly or moth). Here, the meaning of punishment and death restricts and inhibit, but at the same time, transforms into a new skin that guarantees the metamorphosis. Lianet Martínez Pino is following the photographic self-representation that was introduced and developed in the Cuban 1980s art wave by the 90 artists of the scale of Marta Maria Pérez Bravo and Cirenaica Moreira (followed now by other young artists like Aimée García, Lidzie Alvisa, Lisandra López Sotuyo, and Yanahara Maurí, among others).  Lianet Martínez scrutinize the ways in which western patriarchs and androcentric culture conceives and treats women. Physical and symbolic violence, a perception of the female being as an object of desire through male eyes, and female self-repression which is forcefully taught in the day-to-day practice are present in this artwork, and thus proposing the spectator the vivisection and dismantling of sexist and discriminatory archetypes that are largely present in contemporaneous societies.



Persisto, 230cm x 135cm (90in x 53in), serigraphy on glass,  2013 



Meanwhile, the sculpture Al Filo de… (At the Edge of…)(2015) showcases Lianet Martínez Pino as a bold and monumental sculptor who approaches a historical and poetic machete, a tool that symbolizes the struggle and the identity of the Cuban nation.

Historically and culturally associated with the Mambí (refers to the guerrilla Cuban independence soldiers) or the Embelobobo (attribute of Oggun, an Orisha (a spirit) of the forests, war, metals and the forge).  This working tool has been transformed and manipulated from a sharp cutting weapon and has been given a new meaning by the artist. Martínez transforms the steel and dangerous blade into aluminium windows which are a common element in Cuban’s housing architecture.


Al filo de.. 21000cm x  1800cm x 90cm (826in x 708in x 35in), metal, commission for the 12th Biennial of Havana, 2015


The vision of reality through the historical past and tradition, or the opening of new points of view to renewal and inventiveness, are among the proposals of this interactive piece, assembled on the edge of life or death, of the very existence of the current Cuban, often defined by a daily precariousness that makes us improvise and recycle objects and techniques for the sake of daily survival.

Lianet Martinez is a versatile creator whose career should be followed closely. She is daring, inquisitive, multifaceted and a master of multiple techniques; her working hands are unremitting, always researching and suggesting intellective zones or works of art that are plenty of beauty and meanings. Although she is currently navigating between different streams, eventually she will focus her poetic to the expressions that she best dominates.

What is certain is that Martinez’s creative drive and her desire to leave behind a legacy and an outstanding collection of artworks. In the meantime, we hope she continues exploring, provoking, seducing all of us, just as she has been doing until now.

Orisha (Yorubá) in Cuban religions this name is given to deities that are comparable to the saints of the Catholic Pantheon or the gods or demigods of the Latin-Greek mythology. 

Article by Maikel José Rodríguez Calviño who is an art critic, curator and a journalist. He collaborates with Cuban publishers specialised in visual arts, literature and theatre. He has also published several short story books and novels for children and adolescents. Currently, he is head editor of the Noticias de Arte Cubano newspaper.