Critics’ Picks

Loló Soldevilla, Carta celeste: Noches en el cosmos (Celestial Letter: Nights in the Cosmos), 1958, oil on canvas, 27 x 28''.

Loló Soldevilla, Carta celeste: Noches en el cosmos (Celestial Letter: Nights in the Cosmos), 1958, oil on canvas, 27 x 28''.

New York

“Diálogos constructivistas en la vanguardia cubana”

Galerie Lelong & Co.
528 West 26th Street
April 28–June 25, 2016

In the youth of the Soviet Union, Constructivism gave form to the new society’s most utopian ideas about style, labor, and family—a science fiction of everyday life. Little as this endeared the movement to Stalin, not even he could disappear the spiraling geometries of filmmaker Yakov Protazanov’s Aelita (1924) or the Shabolovka Radio Tower. “Diálogos constructivistas en la vanguardia Cubana” (Constructivist Dialogues in the Cuban Vanguard) reveals how these satellites were received on the other side of the planet. Amelia Peláez was born shortly before the end of Spanish rule, and the thick black lines embroidering her paintings annex domestic scenes to the surrounding colonial architecture. Naturaleza muerta en un interior/Las Puertas de la Habana (Still Life in an Interior/The Doors of Havana), 1948, feels like a stained-glass window for a church not yet founded. Light spills across the canvas in delirious crystals.

Loló Soldevilla’s geometric sculptures seem to restrain themselves to the spare palette of a chessboard, their squares and circles paused mid-motion, like the vertiginous obstacles in a 3-D Super Mario level. Her oil painting Carta celeste: Noches en el cosmos (Celestial Letter: Nights in the Cosmos), 1958, is a partially striated circle with two smaller orbs floating within. For Zilia Sánchez, still active at ninety years old, her lunar imagery is a portal to more terrestrial bodies. She stretches canvases over wooden armatures until they pant soft colors. Shapes undulate against one another. I thought of that TV screen bulging outward in Videodrome (1983), a throb loosed from flesh. The first Constructivists dreamed of building to distant planets; after seeing Sánchez’s art, you may fantasize about caressing one.