Thursday, June 1, 2017
Cuban artist's work continues to grow

While the home of Cuban artist Jose Antonio Rodriguez Fuster has become a full-blown tourist attraction, I stop short of calling it a tourist trap. Located in the fishing village of Jaimanitas, a few miles west of Havana proper, his ever-changing neighborhood is passed on the way to Marina Hemingway. For many years, you had to know where to turn to find this insane explosion of colors and shapes. Nowadays, the street marker and bus stop on 5th Avenue are hard to miss.

Starting in the mid-1990s, Fuster started his project, now dubbed “Fusterlandia,” by placing small, intricate ceramic tiles both inside and outside his home. As interest grew, his neighbors allowed the artist to continue his mosaic work out onto the street and onto their homes. The official number varies, but some 50-100 neighboring homes, along with walls and light poles are adorned with his art.

Born in 1946 in the coastal town of Caibarien in the province of Villa Clara, Fuster is best known for his ceramic tile work. In addition to these obvious skills he is also an accomplished painter, printmaker and draftsman and small amounts of his work is available for sale at reasonable prices.

Fuster’s work can be found in other parts of Cuba, too. Along the Malecon in Havana, a children’s park is covered with his trademark mosaic tiles as well as mosaic statues on display in his hometown, some 200 from Havana.

If you can get there earlier than later, you can have a fairly leisurely visit, but when the buses show up, it can be a bit nerve-wracking.

Still, due to the fact that the admission is free (donations are accepted) and the sheer volume of artistic expression is such an enjoyable overload of the senses, Jose Fuster’s home will continue to be on my list of places to see, no matter how many times I’ve been to the island. The reasoning is simple, each day, the “Fusterlandia” project is very much a work in progress.