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Thirteen paintings and works on paper by Emilio Sanchez at Frederico Sève Gallery
Emilio Sanchez, Window 70s. Photo: Courtesy of Frederico Sève Gallery.

NEW YORK, NY.- Frederico Sève Gallery presents Shaping Light, an exhibition of works by Emilio Sanchez (1921-1999) featuring thirteen paintings and works on paper completed from the early to mid 1970’s. The Cuban-born American artist developed an early fascination with light and shadow on colored forms, and is celebrated for his architectural geometric abstractions, which are distinguished by their simplified forms.

Shaping Light includes a series of works on paper that were influenced by his life in New York City, to where he proudly relocated in 1944 and remained until his death more than five decades later. While the 1960’s made way for a period of significant exploration in abstractionism in the artist’s life, the following ten years marked a time of architectural paintings and works that defines one of the highlights in Sanchez’s oeuvre. The works feature stark white vernacular buildings influenced by international travels and capture strong natural light, a quality that is masterfully represented, while remaining true to characteristics of Latin American geometric abstraction of that era. In the artist’s own words, however, he did not “intentionally mean for [his paintings] to be either abstract or pictures of houses”. His contemporaries include Brazilian artists Alfredo Volpi (1896-1988) and Livio Abramo (1903-1992), both of whom created abstract geometric representations of local architecture; and Edward Hopper (1882-1967), who is celebrated for his urban and rural American scenes.

“Composition is one of the strongest formal elements with which Emilio Sanchez unconsciously engaged, weaving an intricate reflection of his sophisticated mind. The obsession with the depiction of houses is a visual trope of his complex personal life…at an early age he started traveling in and out of Cuba,” remarks art historian and critic Rafael Díaz Casas in his catalogue essay for Hard Light: The Work of Emilio Sanchez. “This constant traveling contributed to a feeling of displacement, building on the idea of an absent household and

contributing to a consequent battle of identity. In some respects Sanchez became his houses humanized, and he embraced them at creation as he disembodied fears and anxieties. Sanchez’s work is about inner and outer emotional spaces; he associates the landscape with his intimate memories of physical and psychological freedom.”

Showing concurrently at the Bronx Museum of the Art is Urban Archives: Emilio Sanchez in the Bronx, which displays a selection of paintings and works on paper depicting commercial building in the Hunts Point area of the South Bronx. The Bronx Museum was one of four museums selected by the Emilio Sanchez Foundation to receive a gift of paintings and drawings by the artist, and the exhibition will remain available to the public through January 1, 2012.

The artist’s works have been displayed in over sixty solo exhibitions throughout the world and have been included in numerous group shows in museums and galleries in the United States, Latin America and Europe.

Over thirty museums hold Sanchez’s works in their private and public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, amongst many others.

Sanchez was born in Camagüey, Cuba and began his training at the Art Students League in 1944 in New York City, where he lived until his death. He suffered from chronic ophthalmological ailments throughout his life and was nearly blind in one eye during his last years.

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