Whilst I wasn’t particularly enamoured with my visit to Las Terrazas on the whole, I did love visiting the UNESCO biosphere reserve of Sierra de Rosario. And the primary reason behind my enjoyment of this area was the opportunity to take a peek inside the studio of Cuban painter Henry Aloma, and to meet the artist himself.
Aloma lives and works in a small community that’s nestled in the mountains here, between pine forests and coffee plantations. His wife and young daughter share their small home, attached to which is his studio that doubles up as a gallery of his work.
Not only is Aloma’s work some of the most unique and utterly fascinating I’ve seen, but he’s also a genuinely lovely, family-orientated guy, with a true passion for his work and an infectious enthusiasm.
It’s difficult not to smile when you listen to him speak – in perfect English, nonetheless.
He takes his inspiration from an amalgamation of the beautiful landscapes that surround him, the many species of birds that can be found inside the nearby forests, his immediate environment, and from numerous tools and instruments that he uses on a day-to-day basis.
His pieces are also quite often symbolic, visually depicting a state of mind or passing comment on the society in which we live.
But most of all each and every one of his creations is aesthetically both clever and utterly beautiful.
I honestly never expected to find such quality, unique works of art being produced in a tiny eco community in the mountains of Western Cuba.
Whilst Aloma has showcased his artwork in some of Cuba’s larger towns and cities, including the country’s capital, Havana, he’s probably unknown to virtually everyone in any other part of the world. And that’s part of the reason I wanted to write this post – because this guy is one genuinely talented individual and seriously deserves worldwide recognition for his work.
I obviously couldn’t leave without purchasing a few pieces to take back to England with me, but choosing just three (I’d only brought a limited amount of money with me when I left the hotel that morning) was an excruciatingly difficult decision when there wasn’t a single one that I didn’t absolutely adore.
I finally decided upon the collection below.
The one on the left is a beautiful though slightly macabre piece that is representative of the fragility of the human condition.
I think I was drawn to the one in the middle because I’m a massive music fan, and I love the way in which Aloma has incorporated the mandolin into the picture, cleverly blending it with elements of nature to bring his creation to life.
The one on the right appealed to me as a mystical, but loveable creature who I can imagine making friends with (and sharing a hug with; I mean, how awesome would it be to have those wonderfully warm and feathery arms wrapped around you?) in my very own fairytale kingdom.
Ok, at this point you may be thinking I’m a little strange – I prefer the term “quirky” – but that’s what I love about Aloma’s work – it’s a little bit surreal, as well as being intelligent, beautiful and a lot of fun.
Despite the limited internet in Cuba, Aloma has managed to create a website to promote his work. Although there is no option to purchase prints online at the moment (I’m not entirely sure whether the laws in Cuba would allow the shipment of goods outside of the country anyway), there is a contact page, where you can get in touch with the artist.
I certainly feel very honoured to be in possession of my very own mini gallery of Aloma’s work and am looking forward to hanging it on the wall of my new home (my flat is on the market at the moment so I’m trying to restrain from adding to my current assortment of framed artwork), and answering questions about its origin.
I love buying artwork on my travels. I have pieces from Vietnam, Turkey, China, Bolivia, India, Thailand, and the Czech Republic that are a constant reminder of all the incredible places I’ve been lucky enough to experience first-hand. And seeing as though Cuba is up there with some of the best trips I’ve ever taken, it seems rather fitting that I’m adding Aloma’s unique creations to my collection.
Do you ever buy artwork on your travels? What’s your favourite piece and where did you purchase it from?
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