Fusterlandia

Top choice public art in Playa & Marianao

Where does art go after Antoni Gaudí? For a hint, head west from central Havana to the seemingly low-key district of Jaimanitas, where artist José Fuster has turned his home neighborhood into a masterpiece of intricate tile work and kaleidoscopic colors – a street-art wonderland that makes Barcelona’s Park Güell look positively sedate. Imagine maximal-impact Gaudí relocated to a tropical setting.

The result is what is unofficially known as Fusterlandia, an ongoing project first hatched around 20 years ago that has covered several suburban blocks with whimsical but highly stylized public art. The centerpiece is Fuster’s own house, Taller-Estudio José Fuster, a sizable residence decorated from roof to foundations with art, sculpture and – above all – mosaic tiles of every color and description. The overall impression defies written description (just go!): it's a fantastical mishmash of spiraling walkways, rippling pools and sunburst fountains. The work mixes homages to Pablo Picasso and Gaudí with snippets of the style of Paul Gauguin and Wifredo Lam, magic realism, maritime motifs, aspects of Santería, the curvaceous lines of modernisme, and a large dose of Fuster’s own Cubanness, which runs through almost everything. Look for the Cuban flags, a mural of the Granma yacht, and the words 'Viva Cuba' emblazoned across eight chimney pots.

Fusterlandia stretches way beyond Fuster’s own residence. Over half the neighborhood has been given similar treatment, from street signs to bus stops to the local doctor’s house. Wandering around its quiet streets is a surreal and psychedelic experience.

Jaimanitas is located just off Quinta Avenida (Av 5) in the far west of Playa, sandwiched between Club Havana and Marina Hemingway. A taxi from central Havana will cost CUC$12 to CUC$15.