critical texts


FUSTER, a genius and a figure within Cuban painting.
Virginia Alberdi
Freshness, spontaneity and Cuban themes are indisputable elements that identify the work of one of the most well-known Cuban artists. He has enriched his paintings with the expressive strength of people’s wit, but has been shrewd enough to make his art in a very natural way. In this way, FUSTER has, by its own right, a well-earned place in present-day Cuban painting.

This assertion is totally in keeping with the enthusiasm this authentic, good-natured and cheerful creator has impregnated his work with. From the 90’s on and with an indisputable mastery he has given Cuban plastic arts an unmistakably mocking, pleasant iconography, in which the artist becomes a chronicler of all these years, taking to his canvas and his papers those moments, characters and elements that best identify the Cuban people, their idiosyncrasy, their deep attachment to its traditions and the appearance of new elements that has been incorporated to the people’s imagery.

It is surprising to see his mastery of a technique like watercolor, in which the artist gave free rein to his imagination to combine in drawings of vigorous and loose strokes the colors that identify the brightness the tropical sun has impregnated this whole world it illuminates and heats.

Thus, this obstinate, mocking and nice writer of fables has also filled his canvas with paintings of quite an insular imagery. In the permanent chaos of those characters and situations, presented in the middle of a bright burst of colors, are created those scenes that “find their just proportion in a conceptual proposal that ranks symbols and signs regarding icons of the Cuban culture as much as issues of universal concern, and domestic and traditional values as much as ethical and philosophical speculations”, as I said once when I was presenting one of his exhibitions.
The chronicler of a time that he has illuminated with the colors and the sensibility of an eloquent griot, he focus on this simple people that, blessed with the imprint of a rich range of colors, travels by “camello” ―that very particular vehicle, the combination of need and Cuban inventiveness, that mitigates the enormous need for public transportation―, or enjoy a dinner around a table with fruits form the country and fish ―because the permanent proximity of this artist to the coast is reflected in the alimentary habits of his characters. In another collection of this indefatigable creator, the recovered cars from the 40’s and the 50’s, ―real museum pieces that are driven everyday through the streets of the Cuban cities― have a leading role. Something we need to mention when we write about Fuster is music, that musicality Cubans display, illustrated through a lively representation of musicians: guitarists, bongo players, maraca players and dancing couples, all of them bringing to mind the son, the décimas and other rhythms of the Cuban musical universe.

The fauna of the island, ―particularly caimans and crocodiles, of green coloring―, evocative of biggest island in the Antilles’ environs, have also a space in FUSTER’s paintings. Women of polished bodies and long hair and guajiros with their big hats travel, play dominoes, have dinner and rejoice and love each other in an endless feast thanks to the incredible imagination of this artist who has given Cuban plastic arts drawings with a Picasso-like appearance, lively colors and a vigorous spirit, from which that carefree religiosity that allows representing African deities in a syncretic communion with Christian images can not escape from.
The drawings he used when he started ―back in the 60’s― to support his three-dimensional creations as a ceramicist, developed with him, gaining independence and strengthening itself in his present-day painting, which identifies him and have taken him to become a maker of icons, who enriches visual perceptions and communicates essences.

Fuster is, in short, an artist of moods, of the movement from laid-aside popular things to conquered popular things, in a spiral that makes its ascent to set with its own tone and plagued soul one of the brightest zones in which Cuban art is projected universe-wide.

Virginia Alberdi
February, 2007