Art imitating the reality of Cuba

Before today, I’d never heard of the artist Victor Huerta Batista, who is based in Cuba. But I like the theme of some of his work, as it reflects the reality of Castro’s Cuba:

In Huerta’s “rampant imaginative world”–as (University of Arizona Museum of Art) curator Lisa Fischman calls it–the whole population of Cuba seems hell-bent on escape, flying pell-mell toward the sea, using every possible means of transportation. A Cuban painter virtually unknown to American audiences, Huerta has filled one small room of the museum with his fantastic visions.

Born in 1972, Huerta grew up in Castro’s Cuba. (Fun fact: The dictator Castro deposed was named Batista, Huerta’s other last name.) And while the painter’s work is not overtly political in the sense that it’s not filled with painted slogans and caricatures, it’s hard not to see the critique in what Fischman calls his “fantasies of escape.” From the makeshift rafts that ordinary Cubans devise to sail to the United States, it’s a short leap to Huerta’s creaky painted flotilla.

Even though I haven’t seen his art, I already like his painting “La barca Habana” (The Havana Boat):

Throw your whole damn city–in this case, Havana–into a giant ship. Include the old cathedral, some grass-thatched cottages and palm trees. String some sunshades across the deck, and set up electric fans to blow the vessel out to sea.