Zaida del Rio’s Pleasures and Surprises


Cuban artist Zaida del Rio has stirred up the 12th Habano Festival. She’s brought along a new exposition linked to the most emblematic Cuban products, tobacco, rum and coffee, with a clear intention to spread her creative magic and catchy gleefulness to the CIMEX Corporation’s booth at this world-class event’s tradeshow.

This hardworking woman, painter, drawer, ceramist and engraver, has always unveiled surprises that cheer up the atmosphere. For her, creation is some sort of deep breath and a trade in which spontaneity also needs some wiggle room in the encouragement of happiness and placidity among spectators.

Therefore, from the exhibition’s grand opening, many Cubans and foreigners ask her to have a picture taken with them, always in front of one of her paintings, or they just swing by to shake her hand. Zaida pleases all of them with the same love and charm, so close to her roots as a genuine child of the Guadalupe Farm –a tobacco plantation in the municipality of Remedios, in central Cuba. 

“I didn’t belong to a family of famous tobacco planters, but in my house we used to grow tobacco for inner consumption. At that time my dad used to smoke his pipe, and so did my grandpas. There were curing barns all around Remedios, Cabaiguan and Camajuani, home to tobacco plantations that are not as famous as those in Pinar del Rio, though.”

However, she admits that in her work the world of tobacco has occasional appearances, “especially when I’m commissioned for certain works in advance for events like this one. I’ve addressed other topics, yet that doesn’t prevent me from knowing the importance of tobacco and its beautiful nature, the making process and the genuine culture around it, and I’ve expressed all that much in other occasions.

“Besides, I always say something I once heard: people who smoke cigars are never in a hurry. They enjoy it because tobacco is a pleasure that hails from the aboriginals who discovered it and livened it up. I paint that enjoyment as a world that comes from a long way back. To me this is not a supernatural thing, but rather a wonderful, astral thing likened to other surreal universes, to levels of spirits and things like that.”

However, Zaida smokes “from time to time, when I think it’s convenient to do so, but above all when I’m going to enjoy it. What do I feel? Pleasures, many of them.”

In Habano Festivals, artist Zaida del Rio stands out among those who have handed out humidors to be auctioned off during the much-anticipated gala dinners. She’s also contributed to collective exhibitions. This time around, she’s brought along different works that speak volumes of her creative sensitivity and Cuban identity. “I’m a diehard Cuban, entirely Cuban and that’s why I’ve worked all Cuban themes. And even though I’ve worked such topics as Buddhism, I just wander around the world and find inspiration in everything. However, I always go back inside myself, with myself and with my work, back to my corner, to my Cuban identity.”