Havana’s art epicenter these days is La Fabrica, an industrial warehouse turned mega art space last year.
Its director, X Alfonso, says he’s overwhelmed with curious visitors, including from the U.S., and by requests from Cuban artists to showcase their work.
“An artist who doesn’t make art due to a lack of material is not genuine. Artists create from anything. Our contribution is that we create art from nothing. With little we do a lot.”
Take one of Cuba’s most famous painters, Alfredo Sosabravo. The guy was painting before Castro’s 1959 revolution. And he still is today. But he recalls a long lean decade beginning in the 1970s when Cuba literally ran out of oil paints.
In the 1990s, under the Clinton administration, cultural exchanges first became easier. Today Cuba’s youngest creators, like 29 year old Mabel Poblet, have grown up in an era of nearly unhindered travel for artists.
Poblet’s multi-media pieces have gained critical success around the world, including the U.S.
“The U.S. has always been a desirable place for Cubans, but not so much for artists. I’ve been there three times. Good experiences. In New York, I had my own show.”
Poblet says since December when the U.S. and Cuba announced plans to kiss and make up, American art lovers have been pouring in.
“This is going to nourish our creativity. The U.S. will bring a different type of audience. Not the usual Europeans or Latin Americans that we are used to seeing.”
Poblet’s packing up for another road show, this time in Spain. The flower-bedecked, spinning-wheels piece has just sold to a wealthy Barcelona businessman for $20,000.