Art critique

Review of the Snite exhibition by Emilio Sanchez // The Observer

Notre Dame’s newly acquired Emilio Sanchez pieces embody technical excellence while successfully connecting with audiences through calming images and colors.

Often when we think of art we envision subversion and complexity with deep philosophical significance. However, Sanchez’s work takes a more streamlined and minimalist approach characterized by a geometric style and representation of everyday objects. Sanchez was a Cuban-American artist who mainly worked with architectural subjects and produced lithographs, which are engravings drawn on flat stone.

Sanchez is also known to be one of the few artists to have his work displayed on a United States Postal Service stamp. This honor is a testament to his incredible talent and vast influence, as well as his status as a decorated artist with numerous awards and exhibitions. Recently, two pieces by Sanchez were donated to the Snite Museum of Art in Notre-Dame. Featured in the Stairwell exhibit, these pieces constitute a small exhibit that accurately represents Sanchez’s creative style.

Sanchez’s works – some of which are displayed on USPS stamps – tend to follow a unified theme: they all look like “enlarged” landscapes. For example, one will focus on a door, another on a window or the side of a building. While the subject matter of these paintings may seem straightforward, the depth that Sanchez is able to create still draws viewers in.

“Ty’s Place” was one of two pieces on display at the Snite. Colored lithograph on paper, this piece illustrates Sanchez’s mastery of linework. The coin depicts the side of a building in a soft “sky blue” color. This building appears to be a house, as evidenced by the white shutter hanging largely from the window. The window frame is marked with an eye-catching chartreuse touch that creates a subtle contrast to the white and blue of the house itself.

The actual window of the house, however, is completely black, obstructing our view of the interior. This void shows the depth of color that Sanchez can create, and his presence in the painting could mean several things; it may be aimed at viewers to interpret for themselves what is inside the house – or, possibly, to be able to see their own faces reflected in the window through the glass of the room’s frame.

Sanchez’s work is strongly inspired by his architectural background. This influence is evidenced by the precision with which he approaches the representation of windows and doors. There is very little abstraction in his work. Visually, it evokes a feeling of being very “cut short”. The artist’s work is very calming, thanks to the color palettes he uses, as well as his focus on one or two specific objects.

Seeing Sanchez’s work for the first time, I wanted to sit down in the presence of his paintings and continue to observe them, lulled as I was by their simple beauty.

Emilio Sanchez’s exhibition will be presented at the Snite Museum from November 19 to December 21.

Tags: Emilio Sanchez, minimalism, Snite Museum, USPS stamps