One of our favorite restaurants in Old Havana, Chanchullero, has some of the most interesting posters we’ve seen anywhere in the city (for more info on Chanchullero and some of our other favorite spots, check out our travel guide). The posters were created for the restaurant by Cuban designer Gerardo Lebredo Sanchez.
The pieces are clever, funny, and take advantage of Cuba’s rich history, particularly in its relationship with the United States. The messages are simple yet thought provoking, and at times subversive.
Here’s our favorites, recently featured at Havana’s first Design Biennale this past May:
- In Havana, it seems like every tourist bar has a Hemmingway story. He spent time writing there, drinking there, invested a cocktail or used it as a basis for The Old Man and the Sea. Some of these stories have a bit of truth to them, while others are completely fabricated. Chanchullero, which only opened up in 2015, takes advantage of this and pokes fun at tourist restaurants so eager to capitalize on the author’s legacy. As their poster clearly states, “Hemmingway was never here.”
- On the way into Havana from the airport, one thing you notice immediately is the lack of commercial advertising. That isn’t to say there aren’t billboards, but instead of slinging cars or soft drinks, they’re promoting the ideals of Cuban socialism. This poster combines two well recognized brands: Coca Cola and the Cuban revolution. The wording is changed while the iconic coke bottle is replaced with the Cuban star. Unsubtle, but fascinating, especially for a country where the drink of choice—a Cuba Libre—started out as a Bacardi and Coke.
- A play off of Shepard Fairy’s iconic “Hope” poster for the Obama presidential campaign in 2008. Sanchez has replaced the word Hope with the title and lyrics of a well-known merengue song by Dominican musician Wilfredo Vargas. A bit offensive when translated to English without context, the lyrics roughly mean “Mommy, what is it that the black man wants?” Obama’s race was a big deal when he visited Cuba, which has a large Afro-Cuban population. Sanchez has also snuck in the Cuban flag behind Obama.