The Habano in Nelson Dominguez’s Artwork


According to Cuban artist Nelson Dominguez Cedeño, winner of the 2009 National Fine Arts Prize and many other recognitions, “the habano gives food to my thoughts, makes me get myself together. When I wake up in the morning I light up a cigar because for me that’s a symbol of someone who’s more enrooted and even-tempered, so different to cigarette smokers who are always a tad keyed up.

“Cigar smokers,” he adds, “usually don’t smoke anywhere because it takes time to wallow in a good cigar. Nobody would certainly light up a cigar at a city bus stop. You puff on a cigar at a moment of relaxation, of reflection and that’s why it seems to me that tobacco actually has other features as well.”

Tobacco also carries a heavy weight in his artworks. For the 12th Habano Festival, he has brought along a collection of works specially made for this event. “For the first time,” he says, “I’ve worked a priori for this event. It’s an exhibit of approximately 15 lithographs and serigraphs, plus a couple of chairs for smokers and these three canvases depicting different tobacco motifs.”

This is a man with over a hundred individual exhibitions under his belt, let alone a similar amount of collective expositions, 14 awards and distinctions, two dozen works in countless individual and collective expositions both in Cuba and overseas. His works are scattered in important collections in Cuba, Spain, France, Greece, Mexico, the U.S. and other nations across Europe, Asia and the Americas, either in the hands of private collectors or in the possession of cultural and social institutions.