Robaina's plantation

Wednesday 30 May 2012

La Gloria Cubana Belux no.1 Edicion Regional Belux 2011 (cigar review)

               This was a nice looking cigar that was sent to me by a friend of mine who lives in Belgium. The cigar is called the Belux no.1 and it's what's called the Genio size 52 x 140mm (5.5in.) a Robusto Extra. Belux stands for Belgium and Luxembourg, which means this cigar is only sold in those two countries. Only 3500 boxes of 10 were made.
                 The cigar was hard to the touch with very little give. It had a bumpy cap and an almost dark, veinless, slightly bumpy, oily wrapper. The pre-light draw gave off notes of cedar. After lighting, first draw, good pull with earthy flavours. The burn was off just a little but I touched it up anyway. Picking up lots of wood, I was getting splinters on my lips. When I flicked the ash I noticed a nice cone which meant it was burning perfectly.
                  The flavours didn't change much and neither did the strength, it was a good solid medium. At about a third to the end I picked up some slight floral notes but that was only for a few minutes and then back to the strong wood. I let it go out at about a quarter to the end and re-lit it after a few minutes. Still smoking good with the same woody taste, no change. Shortly after that the cigar started to turn and I put it down.
                   This was a nice cigar and I really like this size. I think a couple of years will do it good but it's not smoking too badly now. I think some time might add some complexity to this smoke. I have another one that I'm going to have to put away for a bit.

Cohiba Siglo VI (cigar review)

                 Firstly, I have to say that I'm a little partial to this cigar, it's my favourite regular production Cuban. This particular one was gifted to me by a friend and I don't know the box date. After having smoked it however it seemed to be young, maybe a year old.

                 Very hard to the touch, like a rock. It had a light brown, smooth, veinless wrapper. The way a Siglo VI should be, a perfect specimen. The pre-light draw gave me hints of tea. The draw was perfect and once lit it was very big with strong cedar flavours coming through. By the time I hit the first quarter I was picking up burnt coffee bean and bitter cocoa. The burn was just slightly off.
                 By the time I reached the half-way mark the cigar had settled into a medium to strong body. This cigar may have been rolled at Partagas but I don't know that. The Partagas factory has a tendency to roll their Siglo VI's a little stronger than the other factories. I don't usually find a Siglo VI this strong even if it is young as I suspect this one is. The burn was still almost right but I touched it up anyway. The flavours had changed again and I was getting a lot of earthiness.
                 With a third left to go the cigar was getting stronger and the earthy flavour held on until the last quarter and that's when the cigar turned on me.
                 I think this particular Siglo VI could have used a couple of years of age. Too bad, it could have been a much better smoke. The fact that I had nothing to drink with it to stimulate my taste buds, didn't help. I still enjoyed it just the same, I hadn't had one in a while. It was very different than the VI's I remember and now I'm wanting to smoke another to compare. For now, Cohiba Siglo VI is still my favourite regular production Cuban.


Saturday 26 May 2012

Maria Magdalena Campos Pons (artist at Bienal)

                 Maria Magdalena Campos Pons born on August 22, 1959, is a Cuban Artist who now lives in Boston. She's been a professor and curator and won awards and recognitions. Her Art has been shown all over North America, Venezuela, Japan and Germany.
                  The piece she is showing at the Bienal is called "El Pan Nuestro de Cada Dia" (Our Daily Bread). There is a Film Clip playing in the background. What it shows are interviews with ordinary Cubans in the street. She asks them if they have friends or family living outside of Cuba. Most say yes and that thanks to the packages and money that they send, they're able to survive. Others say they have nobody. The empty glasses in the pictures signify the Cubans and the packages you see strewn about are the packages sent to them by friends and family.
                   I've only been paying attention to Cuban art for the last two years and still have a lot to see but it's always been surprising to me the things that Cubans get away with when it comes to Art at least. I'm sure there's a lot racier stuff being shown at the Bienal this year and I hope I get some of that so I can show you.

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Ai Weiwei (artist at Bienal)

                The artist Ai Weiwei from China is not present in Cuba but his art is at the 11th Bienal being held right now in Havana. The exhibit is called "74 Bicicletas" (74 bicycles) but it's not the first time he shows this piece. This is a downscaled version of a 2011 exhibit called "Forever Bicycles" where he used 1200 bicycles. He was born in 1957 and is a well known contemporary artist. In ArtReview magazine he was voted #1 on the 'Power 100' list of the world's most influential artists. He was also a consultant for the Beijing Olympics.
                 So, where is he now?? He's under house arrest in China for a piece of art that he did that didn't please his government. He put together 8000 backpacks representing the schoolchildren killed in a recent earthquake and formed the words "She lived happily for seven years in this world", words spoken by a distraught mother who lost her child in the quake. For his troubles the government has put him under arrest and forbidden him to travel.

Above is the original exhibit called "Forever Bicycles"
Below is the scaled down version shown in Havana right now.

Rafael Gomez Barros (artist at Bienal)

                There is a month long Art Exhibit going on in Havana right now called the "Bienal". It started on May 11th and finishes June 11th and takes place once every three years at around the same time. It takes up the entire city and no space is spared with artists from around the world showing their stuff. Entire street blocks are covered with art, not to mention the interior of many buildings. This particular artist, Rafael Gomez Barros, has actually taken up the exterior of a building. The piece is called "Casa Tomada", which translated means eaten house. The English translation used however is just "Ants". The building used for this exhibit is located on Prado and Colon, a movie theater called "Fausto".
                  Rafael is not Cuban but from Columbia. This is not the first time he shows this particular piece. As far as I know he's been showing this work since at least 2009 in Columbia. In 2010 it even covered the facade of the National Congress building in Bogota. The Ants are suppose to symbolize the people displaced by war in Columbia. I'm going to try to show as many artists as I find worthy as the information is sent to me. I hope you enjoy some of this stuff. Below is a link to one of Rafael's exhibits in Columbia from a few years back.