Ferrer paints portraits and landscapes; creates drawings, watercolors, pastels and engravings; experiments with various techniques and explores a wide range of themes. However, his most outstanding work is in portraiture, followed closely by urban landscapes.
With his strong, precise stroke, rich chromaticity and technical mastery, he paints insightful, skillful portraits. Reflecting upon the fact that his works include Facundo and Lincoln, and noting his use of chiaroscuro, it becomes clear that each brushstroke is key, located in precisely the right spot, paying careful attention to facial features, achieving the skin’s softness with a tropical luminosity. These were followed by Páez, Sabas and many others of equal quality that mirror the subject’s psychology; the artist’s eye sees exactly what the canvas calls for. I watched Páez and Sabas grow smoothly, day by day, and was able to confirm what the painter had seen long before.
He had mastered all the relevant techniques and had the necessary talent, but without a doubt the period in which he was trained and the isolation of Santiago de Cuba did not oblige him to keep changing and developing his artistry. Even in the Cuban capital, new trends arrived with considerable delay, and not many traveled from the eastern part of the island to study and then returned, influencing a few followers. Ferrer brought that avant-garde art to his city and promoted contacts with artists in Havana and outside of Cuba. He encouraged the development of the most recent trends in theater and music, as well as supporting all kinds of experimentation in the journal Galería, published by the institution of the same name, which reflected much of the promotional work in which he was actively involved.
During the 1960s he continued his portraits of musicians, using different solutions than in the previous stage and breaking with some of his previous forms. His backgrounds and ambiance were more fluid, agile and luminous, the poses less rigid. Some believe that Ferrer is better at landscapes than portraits, based on the fact that his urban landscapes are in great demand. The Tivolí series is quite beautiful, delivering light and color as never before.
He shows us the Santiago sun on the houses, with their bright colors and an impressive contemporary treatment. Soler speaks of “the shadow’s light” and Ferrer finds solutions without affectation, in a burning sun and shadows full of light.
These painting are full of life, even without pedestrians, because we are the ones whom the sun shines upon. We look both ways and cross to the other sidewalk, in search of a refreshing shade.
Describing an artist’s work is a pleasure. More than one generation owes a debt of gratitude to Ferrer for his life, work and teachings.
- 1939 21st Fine Arts Gallery, Havana
- 1940 22nd Fine Arts Gallery, Havana
- 1941 4th Visual Arts Show, Santiago de Cuba
- 1942 “Cuban Arts Show,” Fine Arts Gallery, Havana
- 1943-1950 Participates in six visual arts exhibitions, winning several prizes and honorable mentions
- 1952 International Visual Arts Exhibition, Lakeland, Florida
- 1950-1960 Participates in 16 exhibitions, winning several first prizes
- 1960-1970 Participates in 17 exhibitions, winning several prizes
- 1970-1980 Participates in 30 collective exhibitions and several one-man shows
- 1980-1988 Participates in 17 exhibitions in Cuba and other countries
- 2003-2004 Meridian International Center, Washington, D.C.
- 2003-2004 Lighthouse Center for the Arts, Tequesta, Florida
Ferrer has received 14 medals for his contribution to the development of art and culture in Cuba.