The Great Beauty
THE HABANO BECOMES AN ARTWORK AS IT GETS IN TOUCH WITH ITS PUBLIC. PERHAPS THAT EXPLAINS WHY SO MANY CUBAN AND FOREIGN ARTISTS COME BACK TO THE FESTIVAL EVERY YEAR, JUST ENTHRALLED BY THE BURNING SUBTLENESS THE HABANO HAS TO OFFER
Art. When talk covers those terms, debate is close at hand. For some is all about esthetics; for others, it refers to a product born out of endeavor, dedication, talent and technique. There's also need to speak about artists, that slew of sensitive beings capable of capturing the subjective and turn it into imperishable artworks, sending vibes up and down our very souls. Hardly ever geniuses come together, but when they do, they simple make that moment really passionate. At least that's how the Habano Festival feels year after year, based on the number of boldface names that travel to Habana, enthralled by the mystique of Cuban cigars.
For their followers, Habanos engulf many of the characteristics that make artworks go on beyond time. If you have any doubts about this, then ask painters like Nelson Domínguez, or musicians such as Chucho Valdés, Omara Portuondo, Leo Brouwer, Mariza, Jack Bruce, Phil Manzanera, Jorge Drexler, Ara Malikian, or someone who was one of Habanos' most charismatic ambassadors: Francisco Repilado (Compay Segundo). Habanos even showed up before Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who eventually unearthed this form of magic realism by the hand of cigars.
It couldn't be any less. Each and every Habano is thought out as a unique piece. Its leaves are intertwined in a symphony full of shades and colors of its own. It's then firmly rolled into shape. Delicate gestures –like watercolor brushstrokes- piece this composition together that eventually finds, in fire and smoke, some kind of a voice it calls its own.
The drag turns into the capturing of a moment, a snapshot, some delight that immediately leads to nostalgia, nostalgia that can only be reined by just another puff. The rings of smoke waft kinetically before the eyes of the beholder and the Habano –it just can't be any other way- becomes a work all in itself as it makes contact with its public, as if it were putting on an organoleptic performance.
Maybe that's why in these 20 years of Habano Festivals, actors and models haven't been able to stand on the sidelines. Big-screen stars have huddled in the
Cuban capital to puff on a good cigar all the way down to its butt. Jim Belushi, Jeremy Irons, Gerard Depardieu, Jack Nicholson, Danny Glover, together with a bevy of femmes, such as Mia Maestro, Naomi Campbell and Paris Hilton, have made headlines by attending an event entirely dedicated to hedonism, a space repeatedly embellished by dancer and choreographer Lizt Alfonso and her disciples.
Yes, many of us have surrendered to the subtleness of a burning Habano and come back to the Festival every year. It looks like everybody who loves everything that's both sensorial and intense –once they have known and tasted its essence- can't stop looking for it.
There's got to be some kind of magic or connection with those things that thrill and soothe the soul. As fleeting as it is, the art of smoking a Habano carries a hallmark of exclusiveness in each and every gesture, a sign of gripping power. That's why countless people are simply captivated by its art and its act. And as a matter of fact, isn't art just everything that gives us the best reason to shiver and travel in a single moment, by just packing a wallop to our senses… just like a Habano does?
Everybody who loves everything that’s both sensorial and intense –once they have known and tasted the essence of a Habano- can’t stop looking for it
PARÍS H I LT O N
GABRIEL GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ
PHIL MANZANERA (RIGHT) JACK BRUCE (AL CENTRO)