An art lover’s guide to Havana
The art scene in Cuba is burgeoning. Havana is home to the oldest arts academy in Latin America, the Academia Nacional de Bellas Artes San Alejandro, which was founded in 1818. The institute has produced a huge amount of talent over the years – most remarkably in the 1920s, with the Vanguardia, a group of painters and sculptors who spearheaded Cuba’s avant-garde.
Nowadays, the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, a huge museum in central Havana, houses the work of Cuba’s best-known artists. However, Havana also has a collection of smaller galleries and studios in different pockets of the city which we, at cazenove+loyd, love to explore with our clients. These display art that hasn’t yet been selected by the national museum.
A very special afternoon for art lovers is a fun and insightful expedition to a few of these secret spots to meet the artists themselves. Many of the studios are in their homes, so this is an exclusive, intimate and fascinating experience. Our art curator, Suzette, with whom we have worked for many years, is brilliant and can unlock doors others that simply cannot. Here are four fabulous Havana-based artists in our little black book:
1 Ibrahim Miranda
One of our favourite artists to visit is Ibrahim Miranda, a painter, engraver and professor, and one of the most sought-after Cuban artists. His work is captivating – he explores the themes of isolation and separateness by creating maps that he often morphs into the shape of animals. During a private visit to Ibrahim’s home and gallery, he will personally greet you, show you his work and talk you through his ideas.
2 Sandra Ramos
A stop-off at Sandra Ramos’s studio is amazing. A contemporary painter, printmaker, collagist and installation artist, she explores the topics of nationality, gender and identity in her work. She often uses The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland, but instead her character is a young female explorer of Cuba under Fidel Castro’s rule.
3 Rigoberto Mena
We love spending some time with painter, Rigoberto Mena. Born in Havana, he continues to live and work there today. In 2011, he was selected to be part of the permanent collection of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. He uses his city as inspiration and the landscapes of Havana – and the spirit of the people are reflected in his abstract creations.
4 Beatriz Sala Santacana
Santacana is a Cuban sculptor, painter and ceramicist who has won seven contemporary art awards. She focuses on people in her oeuvre – and how experiences and conflict can shape lives and societies. She has a hopeful outlook, which is reflected in her colourful work. Her studio also displays her jewellery line, a collection of vibrant beaded necklaces.