The Afro-Cuban Art Of Salvador Gonzalez

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Afro-Cuban Street Art

“In one way or another, this work that we began here in Centro Habana has resulted in the same kind of color and magic that the barrio has to begin with” -Salvador Gonzalez

It has been said before that Cuba is a land of ingenuity. From patched-up cars to makeshift restaurants, Cubans have found a way to reinterpret life’s limitations, and the art world is no exception. In Cuba, art is part of everyday life, and so it makes sense that artists the island over have not let the scarcity of the last several decades dictate their output, but rather have let it inspire and direct them.

Famed Afro-Cuban street artist Salvador Gonzalez has turned Cuba into his canvas. For over four decades Gonzalez has worked to transform neighborhoods in Cuba from slums into vibrant cultural centers. His home base is Callejon de Hamel, a once-downtrodden neighborhood which he has slowly turned electric with paintings, sculpture, music, and dance. Here, visitors to Cuba can view authentic Afro-Cuban art and artists, dancers and musicians on their home turf, transforming the streets of Havana into their stage.

Afro-Cuban Influences

African influences in Cuba are part of the cultural fabric of this Latin-Caribbean nation. The slave trade, which brought unwilling Africans from their homelands north through the Caribbean, had a major effect on the islands that crisscross the waterways between northern Africa and the United States, not the least of which was Cuba. Eastern Cuba in particular, saw the greatest increase in African settlement during this time and is still today the part of Cuba that most identifies with Afro-Cuban roots. French settlers from Haiti who fled in the Haitian revolution in the 1800’s also brought slaves with them to Cuba. And within all of this darkly rooted migration came the culture of a displaced people. Afro-Cuban culture is now as much Cuban as any other aspect of this nation. Santeria, African spices, music, and art are the watermark left by a shared history.

Gonzalez celebrates the diversity of Havana, and Cuba as a whole, in his vibrant creations. If you’d like to see his work first hand consider taking a tour with Access Culinary Trips in 2017.