Juan Lázaro Gutiérrez Momblas is one of the Cuban artists we met by chance one afternoon wandering along the interesting streets of Havana. In Havana, it doesn’t matter if you lose your way because you will always find your destination in the end and then you will find your way back home again. And while you are lost, you will be surrounded by the constant rhythm of the city, it’s music, its art, its crumbling beauty, its hustle, its charming people. This the thing I love about Havana. There is always something new to discover in this historical city.
On this day, we found or stumbled upon Juan Lázaro’s studio which he shares with a couple of other artists. Young artists in Cuba survive in the big city of Havana by getting together and renting the front room of someone’s house during the day time. The owner of the house is able to make some money from this transaction. They rent out their front room during the day to artists who share the cost of the rent between themselves. The owners earn a little income, the artists have a place to create and to sell their work that is away from the homes they share with their families. The lover of art is the visitor to the studio and will be able to find art and then buy the art work he or she loves. It’s like the circle of life. Infinite. It works out for everyone. They say in Cuba, if the Chinese have not already invented it, the Cubans will. Out of sheer necessity. This is what is known as Cuban humor.
The walls of the studio are adorned with the works of Juan Lázaro Gutiérrez and the works of the other artists who share this little studio in the front room of someone’s house. When I entered Juan Lázaro’s studio/gallery, he was busy standing at an easel sketching out the beginnings of another of his works of art. A couple of his friends sat around. Music, always present in Havana, was playing on a CD player in the background somewhere.
The subjects of his paintings are objects from his daily life in Cuba, a chair, fruit and what comes as a result of his meditation. Sometimes he paints portraits of beautiful dark women whose skin has been blessed by the sun. In the photograph above, he kneels beside the painting he would not give up. It was his favorite. Perhaps he loved this woman once. I don’t know. I loved the unique colors of this work of art; a woman, dark and golden from the sun, wearing a brilliant blue sweater and a bowl of tropical fruit as a headpiece.
I asked him if he had more paintings and he ran off quickly to his home and brought back more to show me.
Juan Lázaro was born in 1973 in the town of Manuel Lazo, Pinar del Río in western Cuba. He is a prolific Cuban artist and has held many art exhibitions within Cuba. His paintings have also been a part of Cuban art exhibitions abroad, in countries including Peru, Canada and France. Some of his paintings will be added to our page on Cuban art for sale in the near future.
You’ll find the studio of Juan Lázaro Gutiérrez located at Empredado No. 355, in old Havana.