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Our Visit to Casa Fuster

May 02, 2016
By Stephen Thomforde
Looking out from the 3rd level of Fuster’s house.

Note: this is the latest in a series of posts about our trip to Cuba in April; please see our other posts about the trip.

We also visited the home and studio of one of Cuba’s leading artists, José Rodríguez Fuster. His home in western Havana is a veritable fairy land of tile mosaics.

We spoke with Fuster’s nephew, Hiran. He used to be a ship captain and sailed up to Florida and beyond many times. Now he makes more money working with his uncle and helping with the ceramic business than working as a ship captain for the government; because of the tourist business Fuster gets, Hiran earns a great deal more. The tourists pay in CUC’s (matched to the dollar), instead of the national currency (CUPs are 25 to the dollar).

Hiran points out a scene from Cuban history rendered in mosaic behind him.

Hiran also told us about the challenges they face in getting enough tile and coloring. All the materials must be imported and often they are waiting for materials.

We also learned about the process for making the more elaborate sculptures around the garden. The artist took 3 pieces of steel rebar to get the volume, wrapped them in chicken wire and then set the tiles on with concrete. This simple process yields incredible results.