Toroazul Painting and Fine Arts
El Caballero de Paris
(Street poet of Old Havana)
48  "   x   30  "
oil on canvas
Private Collection
The city  of Havana was to my eyes as a child what New York or Chicago would be
to a young boy growing up in a small provincial town of the United States. I
remember seeing the character I painted in this canvas during one of my trips to the
capital with my parents, when I was about 8 years old. The "Caballero de Paris"  
(Parisian gentleman) was a homeless street poet who claimed to be of noble
European lineage and wrote verses that he would often give to ladies on scraps of
paper. The Caballero was often seen around the
 seawall, or malecón. (CLICK here to
read more about the seawall in my work.)
In 1994, the U.S.naval base in Guantanamo, Cuba, was used as
detention center for thousands of Cubans fleeing the Castro regime on
precariously built  rafts and boats. This painting evokes the plight of
the many families who literally ended up behind barbed wires during
and after that year's exodus. Even though I am a U.S. citizen, the
story of my native land is an integral part of my soul and of my vision
as an artist.
G u a n t a n a m o
48 "   x   48  "
oil on canvas
Private Collection
The symbolism of the two oars (above) and the single oar (below) is tied to
the story of exodus and shipwreck so intimately associated with Cuba
since Fidel Castro rose to power in 1959. Perhaps these themes go back
further to the days of the Taino natives, African slaveships, and pirates of
the Caribbean . . . .

The shape of the single oar -- like a guitar or violin -- expresses what I
see as the character of the Cuban people, so  "musical" and  care-free. The
barbed wire carries associations of pain and exclusion. Ironically, Cuba
needs a Nelson Mandela to denounce the apartheid that its people have
been suffering for over 40 years.

When the canvas of my Cuban Oar was auctioned for $ 7,000 in 1995, I
donated all the proceeds from the sale to help Cuban detainees at the U.S.
Naval Base in Guantanamo, Cuba, while they awaited passage to
freedom in North America.

The auction was part of "Children Without a Country," a charity gala
held in Miami Beach for the Guantanamo detainees. The charity effort
was led by Cuban-American pop-singer Willy Chirino and a number of
other  prominent Cuban-American professionals and performing artists
(CLICK here) .
T h e   T w o   O a r s
19.5 "   x  72 "
oil on wood
$ 12,000
R e m o   c u b a n o
( Cuban oar
4 '  x  4 '
oil on canvas
Private collection
Back to Homepage
Back to Oil