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 find your way back home again. And while lost, you’ll find yourself surrounded by the constant rhythm of the city. This the thing to love about Havana. There is always something new to discover in the city. Getting lost is one of the best ways.
Juan Lázaro’s studio shares his studio which is a front room of a house with a couple of other artists. Young artists in Cuba survive in the capital city by getting together and renting space during the day time. The owner of the house is able to make some money from the transaction; everybody’s happy. They rent out their front room during the day to artists who share the rent among the group. The owners earn a little income, the artists have a place to create and to sell their work outside of their family home.
The walls of the studio are adorned with the works of Juan Lázaro Gutiérrez and the works of other artists who share the space. When I entered Juan Lázaro’s studio, he was busy standing at an easel sketching out the beginnings of another of his works. A couple of his friends sat around. Music, always present in Havana, was playing on a CD player in the background.
The subjects of his paintings are objects from his daily life in Cuba, a chair, fruit and what comes as a result of his meditations. Sometimes he paints portraits of beautiful dark women whose skin has been blessed by the sun. The colors in his paintings are unique; a woman, dark and golden from the sun, wears a brilliant blue sweater and a bowl of tropical fruit serves as a headpiece.
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 and abroad, including Peru, Canada and France.
When asked about his art and what he is trying to express, he said that his work as the manifestation of unspoken things.
He told us, “I try to express my ideas and thoughts by giving them the exact date of the year in which I finish the canvas. The inner world and my experiences of my life each day are reflected in my work, but in a non-figurative manner. The anger, regret and joy that I feel are expressed in my art.
“I turn everything into art, to which I dedicate my whole life,” he said.
“This dedication has been at the root of my art. Creating my style took me some time and I gave to it my own profile, so when my work is recognized and admired I feel really gratified by it.
“In the “Meditations” series, I am trying to remind people to caress, to love and to talk because when we were children our parents gifted us with love and positive values. By not following this, we hear young people in the street lacking respect for older people and vice versa. This negativity is expressed in my canvas by desperate strokes of the paintbrush, vivid colors, and occasionally writing texts in my works.
“In fact, I only seek to make people to feel better among themselves, and by this, I am not referring only to those couples in love. For this reason, one finds in my paintings extra-terrestrials, artifacts, bicycles and even people (always in an unearthed landscape: for me, art is the manifestation of things that for many reasons, we leave unspoken….”
You’ll find the studio of Juan Lázaro Gutiérrez located at Empredado No. 355, in old Havana.
Update: Juan Lazaro recently exhibited his art in Belgium.