Jos Bedia is considered one of the most important contemporary Cuban artists. Trained in the Western tradition, his interests range from Western to non-Western sources. His travels and his practices of the Palo Monte religion have had an important impact on his artistic development. His general philosophy, influenced by African and Native American tribal beliefs, promotes the communion of man with nature and primitive life's values.
Bedia's work is characterized by a distintive graphic style, inspired by the ledger-books of the Lakota Indians. His own style includes some of the ledger-books' conventions, such as representing language by using lines coming out of the mouth of a person. Bedia's cartoon-like men are shown in profile with a delicate pointed nose. Usually outlined or colored in black, these silhouettes follow distinct stylized shapes that have become his trademark. In some instances their bodies are marked with delicate white crosses which symbolize the marks of the initiation ceremony of Palo Monte religion.
Since in Afro-Cuban and American Indian traditions spirits may have animal forms, many of his symbols are influenced by the animal world. Birds, which are shown flying or standing on the vegetation, represent the journey to the sky or the magical flight to the outer world. Figures with human torsos and animal heads refer to the nahual, a Mexican Nahuatl force that lives outside the human body. According to the tradition, when a baby is born, the father surrounds the house with ashes. The next morning, the first animal to make an imprint in the ashes gives the baby his or her nahual. In a way, the nahual is the simplest and the closest relationship between man and nature.
Bedia rejects the tradition associated with easel painting as part of his anti-Western attitude. He prefers flat surfaces to illusionist representations of reality. He uses acrylics instead of oils, and paints with his own hands to create irregularly colored backgrounds. The result is a textured surface, with palm and fingerprint marks, in earth-like colors or nature-inspired tones. Over these hand-painted surfaces, he traces his cartoon-like figures and creates a story, which usually symbolizes the conflict between the primitive and the contemporary world.
In Jurara que era un venado two cars drive in different directions on a desert highway. A man turns around, incredulous, as he sees a deer-headed man driving in the opposite direction. The scene is full of symbols and can be interpreted in multiple ways. Several of the symbols, such as the deer and the vegetation, clearly refer to the American Indian tradition. A man kneeling by a plant symbolizes religious offering. The birds, as mentioned above, represent the mystical flight. The action of crossing each other's path may refer to the crossroads, an important concept in Palo Monte religion. The vehicles may symbolize Sarabanda, a Palo Monte spiritual being related to iron and its properties. The fact that the cars are going in opposite directions represents Bedia's philosophy that humans should reconcile with nature and with the world. It is this goal that the artist feels can only be attained by returning to primitive ways of life, as symbolized by the deer-headed man driving forward and the little flying bird on the front of the car.