November 2015 Cuba. I traveled to Cuba on an educational/cultural visa a few months before President Obama announced the USA would open diplomatic relations. US citizens were allowed to travel to Cuba under this visa and under a state guided tour.
Our group was asked about our specific interests before we travelled and one of the things I requested was to meet Cuban artists and to visit the Cuban National Art Museum. I was not disappointed! I wasn't allowed to take photographs in the museum, but I can tell you the Cuban art, from classical colonial, modern abstract-expressionism and contemporary was very impressive. I visited once with a guide and the second, alone in which I spent an entire afternoon absorbing the art. Cuban modern art is unique, as the artists spent time in Europe with their contemporaries, artists such as Picasso that were keenly interested in what was "primitive" from Africa.
Artists such as Picasso appropriated, almost copied the art of "primitives" without interest in origin and spirit of the work. Cubans, on the other hand were a rich mix of European, African and the original indigenous, pre-Colombian people, the Ciboneyes, the Guanahatabeyes and the Taínos. I could see the European modern art influence in the Cuban paintings, but their work is somehow more authentic, deeply moving and spiritual in a way Picasso's work is not.