MALACCA: Cuba is a country known for producing high quality cigars.
Less-mentioned, is its unique culture that is an amalgamation of African, Spanish and North American influences.
For the observant, one would find such elements in its food, music and art.
To promote the country, the Cuban Embassy here is giving Malaysians a taste of the unique blend of its culture through Casa Cuba, an exhibition gallery in Bukit Peringgit.
The gallery, built in June 2007, is located inside what was a former senior government officer’s residence during the British rule. It is one of Malacca’s historical sites.
The Second Secretary (Political Affairs) at the Cuban Embassy in Malaysia, Nestor Tores said Casa Cuba had an important role in introducing Malaysians to Cuban culture.
The gallery showcases various forms of art by Cuban artists, including paintings, lithographs and ceramic works.
Tores said the embassy features over 80 works of renowned Cuban artists, including Nelson Dominguez and Belkis Manso.
Belkis was a Cuban artist and lithographer whose work was based on the Afro-Cuban religion, combining the myth of Sikan and the traditions of the Abaku which is a man’s secret society. The artist committed suicide in September 1999, at the age of 32.
Since her death, the Cuban government declared her work a patrimony where none of it was allowed to leave the country.
“It is a privilege that her works were allowed to be brought to Malaysia, to be featured in the exhibition,” said Tores.
The main exhibition hall features many paintings, including portraits of Cuban President Fidel Castro, and pictures of young people playing baseball, one of the popular sports in the republic.
Speaking on setting up the gallery in Malacca, Tores the move was based on the state as a well-developed tourist attraction.
He hopes that the establishment of Casa Cuba in Melaka will bring more local and foreign visitors to the gallery, and interest them in the republic.
Casa Cuba is open on weekdays from 9am to 5pm. – Bernama.