New York

Emilio Sanchez

Coe Kerr Gallery and Center for Inter-American Relations

In Latin American art, Ortega’s concept of dehumanization, originally a complex analysis of modernism, has been rapidly banalized into a deliberate convention, stylized into wistfulness, into similar mood pieces which are weak shadows of the dynamic trends that Ortega was examining. Certain effects have become clichés, say a newspaper blowing across an empty street; in fact, emptiness has been worn down into a visual topos that conveys no new information. Thus, in viewing the Cuban painter Emilio Sanchez, one feels that his painterly competence has been put in the service of a standard formula. His oils are based on simple juxtapositions and lucid signs: exteriors, porches, patios, house interiors, bars, and banisters, are sliced off in their continuum, the perspective soaring along the architectural guidelines. The bright day creates sharp contrasts of light and dark that heighten the geometrization, and the shadows usually veer against the flight lines, thereby generating the chief tension. Whites, grays, olives mutely predominate; orange and yellow occasionally contribute or fill out the eerie/cheery mood. The lack of any human presence (except for occasional proper names in the titles), the lack of furnishing and decorations in bare interiors, coolly fulfills the formula of wistfulness, with the buildings remaining as vestiges of a void-symbolizing ghost town.

Joachim Neugroschel