Tomás Sánchez

The idyllic landscapes of Tomás Sánchez explore the beauty and loss of the environment, promising a haven beyond the reality we know.

Sánchez’s symbolic landscapes have made him one of the most important living Cuban artists. In the 80s, he was part of Volumen Uno, a movement that resisted the heavily censored Cuban art of the time. Since, he has gained international recognition and sold upwards of $600,000 USD. Inspired by the Romantics, Sánchez’s paintings depict the wilderness of his homeland, along with vast panoramic views of garbage dumps. 

  • Buscador de Paisajes sold at Christie’s for $626,500, New York, 2012
  • Solo show Tomás Sánchez at the MARCO, Monterrey, 2008
  • Solo show Tomás Sánchez at the Marlborough Gallery, New York, 2005
  • Debut solo retrospective Tomás Sánchez at the National Museum of Fine Arts, Havana, 1983
  • Winner of the Joan Miró International Drawing Prize, Barcelona, 1980

The works are incredibly detailed with a lush tropical palette, encompassing the physical wonder of the natural world, it’s immense spiritual power, and humankind’s tendency to destroy it. Waterfalls, lagoons, palm trees, and small human figures, all represent wider issues of the environment, humankind’s insignificance, and inner peace. Steeped in allegory, Sánchez’s art reinterprets traditional modes of painting into his own uncanny paradise that is hopeful and threatening at once.

“I like artists who find a way of expressing themselves through landscape—offering an interiorised vision in an exterior scene”

While Sánchez is best known for his hyperreal landscapes, he has also experimented in print, sculpture, photography, drawing, and different styles of painting. His earlier works, under the title, Expressionism, explore a looser painted gesture, littered, as always, in symbolism. El Circo/The Circus (1974), is an oil on canvas depicting a circus tent with a raucous crowd watching Jesus being carried on the cross. There is a red bullfighting cloth on the stage, but a chicken instead of a bull; and two men wear red colonialist hats, one pulling the cross, the other gearing the crowd. Various angels and the Virgin Mary are among the audience members, all of whom watch with both eagerness and dread. Thus, the work plays with tropes of religious iconography as a sardonic metaphor for the performativity of religion, colonialism, politics, and popularism, both ancient and contemporary.

“I believe it’s through nature that we find freedom”

There is a perfectionism in Sánchez’s work that feels unreal. While his paintings are based on the scenery of Cuba and South America, the highly considered compositions and flawlessly rendered surfaces are heavenly and dreamlike. The paradise is so immaculate that it feels unattainable—a tease of the perfect world you see, but cannot have. This parallels the fact that much of the scenery Sánchez paints, no longer exists, having been cultivated for unsustainable agriculture. In this way, Sánchez’s practice is a timeless morning: a morning for everything that has already been lost, but also for a future threatened by human destruction. However, underpinning such bleak themes, is optimism. The tranquility of his works carving out a space for limitless potential—a paradoxical symbol of hope within chaos.

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