At the western edge of Havana in Jaimanitas, an incredible transformation has been taking place for the last 20 years thanks to artist José Rodriguez Fuster. Without going into great detail about his work, I will say that he very much likes mosaics and has been influenced by Gaudi, Miro, Brancusi, Picasso and Dubuffet, among others. He began by decorating his own house... and then it spread through all of the surrounding streets. The result is in constant expansion and so far more than 80 of his neighbours have allowed him to decorate their properties. Frankly, it is an amazing sight.
With all the other group or duo threads in which I've been involved, there is always the need to try to keep things in sequence or to apologize for semi-duplicating a picture someone else has posted. Not with Fusterlandia! For one thing, there is almost too much to take in -- but in a good way. Also, every angle of the sun or perspective framed seemed to reveal something new. We spilled out the car that brought us there and immediately headed in different directions. No matter, there was retracing of steps and noticing something missed on a first circuit and slowing down to appreciate smaller or more subtle elements. Nothing prepared me for the unbridled imaginativeness nor the sheer scope. It was sheer delight throughout.
Not all the beauty is man-made ~
Most of the pictures in this post are from Fuster's house, to which I'll return later.
Quite amazing. I just had a look for some information about the area. I hope that Fuster and his neighbours continue doing their own thing for their own pleasure instead of it turning into a sight on the tourist trail.
Some orientation: Where we started out, in front of Fuster's house, is towards the front of the ornamented area, i.e., nearer the highway. The Hugo Chavez portrait is at the entrance to Fuster's street. From there you look away from the highway to the Granma (boat) wall. I'm calling the Granma mural the middle part. The wall going left of Granma is the one with the countries depicted on it. The wall going right from Granma is the one with all the fish. After the broken section that leads to the beach, the wall curves into another residential street with some mosaic work.
Here a new piece of art is underway ~
It is next to an obviously new section created to commemorate Hurricane Irma ~
Will everything eventually get the mosaic treatment? This house seems happy with itself as it is ~
But these two might well be awaiting the Fuster treatment ~
In this neighborhood, it's logical to assume that rebar is on its way to being another fantastical arch ~
At first I gave the many tiles featured in the works barely a glance, as I was so eager to view the mosaics. But once I started paying attention to the tiles, I was knocked out with the variety and artistry.
Re: the driver, as mentioned in Kerouac's last post ~ We didn't like to think of his waiting for us, but it must be said that he was being paid, that I urged him to move the car or to leave it if he got too hot, and that I went off to get him some water before even starting to take pictures. I don't think either of us are the stuff of which evil capitalist overlords are made.
If I were to feel guilty about anything concerning the driver, it might be the way that I mercilessly badgered him to open up with his opinions about his country, socialism, etc. on the ride out to Fusterlandia. It did pay off in some interesting information, including that we were in the area where Fidel's house is located and where his widow still lives. According to the driver, it's not a big fancy house and "In Cuba Fidel's wife is just a private person and not known as the First Lady."
At any rate, in Fusterlandia time I have circled back to where I started and now in front of the gate to Fuster's house. I'm going back into the yard as there are fewer people around and the light is better ~
The property appears to be huge because of the rampant artwork and because it seamlessly blends into the two adjacent properties, which are also adorned with mosaic. In actuality, it is rather narrow and not all that deep. As you can see in the next two pictures, there are multiple levels ~
The woman with the laptop was interviewing the man in the cap. She didn't speak Spanish nor he English and she was using some kind of translation engine, then transcribing what he said. I could overhear him telling her something and she kept incorrectly guessing what it was. Finally I blurted out "chicken wire", which is what the man had said. She was delighted and felt that I might want to stay there and help her. Unh-huh.
A last look up ~
and a last look down, then I reluctantly tear myself away from Fusterlandia ~
Fusterlandia is the kind of place where you either feel you are in the clutches of a madman or, in this case, someone who lives with so much happiness that it spills out into art.
It looks like the tiles were created by many people, which makes me wonder if it started with Sr Fuster but is now a community project?
What a contrast to the narrow streets of Havana and their once-grand buildings, now mostly crumbling. Here the homes are simple but they're near the sea, the residents have light and air and space. This is one of the most appealing art projects of this type that I've ever seen.
It's tough to live in a tourist destination, though.
That is a wonderful description, Breeze, & it feels as though the second part of your lead sentence nails it!
You are right about the tiles coming from the hands of many different people. From what I've been able to glean reading various online articles which are mostly duplicates of each other, you are also indeed correct that the ornamented neighborhood started with Fuster's own house. He then asked permission from the adjacent neighbors and it went from there. He has said in interviews that he pays for everything out of the proceeds from his paintings. (He has exhibited all over the world.) My own take on that would be that, as a treasured Cuban artist, he might well be the recipient of government grants as well. Whether or not that is the case, it's wonderful to see the exuberant result of his vision and to realize that a whole community of people share it.
This is one of the most appealing art projects of this type that I've ever seen.
Yes -- I so much agree with you! Really, if it were possible I would go back tomorrow to take some more in.
Re: living in a tourist destination -- He appears to invite the public into his own house. As for the rest of the neighborhood, we did see a couple of large tour buses, but they didn't stay very long. In fact one Chinese tourist off a cruise ship got accidentally abandoned by her bus while we were there.
It's possible the neighbors benefit from their area's renown. Perhaps some of the work, masons for instance, is paid labor and not volunteer. There were several little art galleries but, oddly, no place selling snacks or pop. Toto, we're not in Mexico anymore!
Last Edit: Oct 12, 2018 15:31:30 GMT by bixaorellana: must learn to proofread