This post is all about the art of Cuba! So it is going to be very visual, with plenty of photos. Although the variety of art I experienced during my time in Cuba was outstanding, I’ll just share a few with you today. It all started on day two in Havana…
Don’t worry mom I didn’t get one of these permanent Cuban souvenirs. I did find our interview with the owner of the only established tattoo shop in Cuba quite fascinating though. Turns out the art of tattooing is still a new phenomena in Cuba and something that is still tabooed, unlike in the U.S.. Tattooing is a way of self-expression, which in Cuba, is still making its way out of the woodwork. So it was interesting to hear that this shop overcame the necessary obstacles to be legally licensed to operate. Now more and more Cubans (although the majority of their clients are tourists) are receiving artwork on their skin. This is not only morphing society in ways of pop culture, art and fashion, but it is also setting a higher standard of business in Cuba’s tattoo field. Strict safety and hygienic policies are followed, and the owner goes through great lengths to get the best quality inks and tools from abroad. He brings them back home packed in his suitcase to save costs. Clients must also be aged 18 or older to get a tattoo, even if accompanied by an adult.
Jumping ahead to day four in Havana brings us to one of my favorite artists that we had the pleasure of meeting. Jose Fuster is inpired by bright color and mosaic work. After starting to remodel his home to become his own fanciful playground, he spread his artistic vision into the neighboring streets. Now his art is both decorative and functional as he uses sculpture to rebuild the neighborhood. What was once a sleepy village is now a tourist hotspot named Fusterlandia and a source of income for the locals.
As Fuster is a long time friend of my Journalism Professor, we were invited into his living room and heard the story of how he made his dream a reality. Fuster is constantly innovating and vows to never let the current political and economic issues of Cuba hold him back.
Later in the week we adventured out to the beautiful town of Vinales, covered in green mountains and farmland. The Viñales Mural de la Prehistoria is the work of the former Director of Mapping at the Cuban Academy of Sciences, Leovigildo González Morillo, a master of neo-caveman artistry. From left to right of the mural, Morillo paints his take on the evolution of man from mollusk to dinosaur to human. What I found fascinating was how the artist was able to create such a grand image on a 3-dimensional, uneven surface. It is hard to tell unless you see it in person, but the mural is actually painted in tiny stripes, and only comes together as one image after standing back from it. After the artist’s death the mural needs a great effort from the community to keep it preserved and restored. While some see it as an eyesore and a financial burden, others see it as a cultural piece that brings the community together.
What do you think about the artforms I shared with you today? Is there any form of art you love in particular? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!
For more about art and culture in Cuba, read another post of mine here.