En el paisaje interior by Tomás Sánchez

In conversation, Cuban painter Tomás Sánchez illuminates the spiritual underpinnings and sustainable production of his debut timed release.

January 26, 2022

Tomas Sanchez inspects his print in his studio

In conversation

What led you to revisit 'En el paisaje interior' for this collaboration?

"This print is based on a painting that has many followers and lovers, but my reasons for selecting it respond much more to its spiritual capacity than to its success on social networks! There is an effect of infinite prolongation, created by the arches that form the trees, which makes us experience the same sensation of being inside a Gothic cathedral – of having a closer contact with the ideas that we have about God, in any way we feel them. The effect simultaneously gives a sense of expansion and divinity. I just wonder about who doesn't need that kind of relief in life?"

Everything great that you can perceive in an image, or a painting is nothing more than a projection of what emanates directly from you
What is the significance of the work's title?

"En el paisaje intererior, or 'In the inner landscape,' is where the meditation really happens. Everything great that you can perceive in an image or a painting is nothing more than a projection of what emanates directly from you – from the inner space that you can find in the experience of meditation. The title completes this work's contact with the divine, with the light within us. It is the precise understanding that nothing is outside of us, nor separate from us, that we ourselves are part of a whole."

There's a distinct calmness present in the work –  tell us about the seated figure and your use of symmetry?

"For western culture, symmetry is a symbol of perfection. Perhaps that is why symmetry is necessary for this painting. It is important to aspire to harmony; it creates a world vision. Nature carries its own balance, one much cleverer than what a man can represent, so I never try to take nature as a model. I do not reproduce natural landscapes, I am interested in the inspiration they give me – not only in a formal sense, but as revelation.

"The human figure that sometimes appears in my paintings – often a meditator, sometimes a walker – is what I recognise as "the witness's consciousness," a concept from the line of philosophy and spirituality that I practice. The witness is none other than the recognition and vision of ourselves we can find within the vast complexity of meditation.  We are not tourists in nature, nor can we extract its resources without weakening ourselves. In my experience, the consciousness of the witness is also a reminder that being kind to everything around us encompasses the respect that we must also give to ourselves."

Tomas Sanchez studio with leafy environment outside

Tomas Sanchez signing his edition by hand

We'd love to hear about some of the artists who have informed your practice.

"In the mid-1980s, my friend, historian and art researcher Guadalupe Álvarez, gave me a book about Caspar David Friedrich. The first thing that surprised me was how the work of the German Romantic landscape painter could be so contemporary – marked by the audacity of deciding to paint only a window, for example. The philosophy of his work, contemplation, passion for nature and mystical character make him a key figure in my field of reference and the way I approach my own landscapes.

Landscape is the first noteworthy American pictorial genre, but there is a tacit agreement that the genre reached its zenith with the Hudson River School. My encounter with the work of this group of landscape painters confirmed its symbolic and aesthetic link with European Romanticism. Artists such as Frederic Church incorporate the concept of 'the sublime' to landscape painting on this side of the world. This concept had already been addressed by Kant in his book Kritik der Urteilskraft (Critique of Judgement) to approach art and had exponents in Europe, such as J. M. W. Turner. The understanding of 'the sublime' as sacred, which opens the possibility of approaching nature in its divine and monumental character, is close enough to the painting process which results from my meditation practice."

volcano erupting over luscious landscape

Cotopaxi, Frederic Church, 1962

Drifting clouds over green mountainous landscape

Drifting clouds, Caspar David Friedrich, 1920

"It often happens that when I am fixated on a question, Antonia Eiriz has the answer. She was my teacher and my friend – her lucidity accompanied me until she passed away. From her, I learnt not to put off honesty and to speak out. Antonia was harsh and sweet all at once. Without her mentoring, perhaps my work would be something else, and I would probably be someone else. She taught us to break the moulds and schemes of everything that has been learnt. Most agree that the expressionist works of my early years are, to a great extent, influenced by her work. I can say that that’s what she influenced me on least.

While in search of James Ensor at the Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts I found Leon Spilliaert. With Spilliaert, I share more than a way of painting. I was seriously moved by the emotional, spiritual and psychological burdens of his work. The manner in which he depicts nature and the human presence in it transcended the symbolism of the end of the century, while the synthesis and refinement of his landscape pave the way, to an extent, for minimalism. From then on, now for about four decades, Spilliaert has been an artistic reference."

Sparse Forest Trees

Trees, Leon Spilliaert, 1929

pastel faces piled on top of eachother

Paisaje, Antonia Eiriz, 1993

Moving back to your timed edition, what do you think of the print?

"The quality of these prints and how they respect the light and color of the originals allow a broader public to have a closer contact to my work. I believe that this kind of technique has significantly improved the way that print editions are perceived. At the same time, my painting has evolved over the years and sometimes the reproductions or photographs of my paintings do not adequately show the work behind them, which is not the case with this edition. The prints maintain an excellent fidelity and respect for the evolution of my work, for the colours and the details within it."

The quality of these prints and how they respect the light and color of the originals allow a broader public to have a closer contact to my work.

Sustainable production

Hahnemüle’s innovative and environmentally conscious approach paper production make them the perfect partner for Sánchez’s edition. Located at the edge of a nature reserve in central Germany, Hahnemüle’s proximity to the unspoilt natural environment informs their sensitivity to environmental concerns. Exploiting the environment as little as possible has defined their company history for more than four centuries, and they are on course to become the first climate neutral paper mill by 2030. Of particular note is their use of exclusively renewable energy sources and pure spring water – which is kept so clean during production that it can be fed back directly to a nearby river after use.

large natural spirals formed out of weaves

natural landscape of marshes with a river and greenery

Extending this ethos from paper to ink, we collaborated with D’mage in Berlin to print the edition. All inks used are based entirely on natural pigments and D'mage, like Hahnemüle, rely solely on renewable energy to power their operations. At the end of the process offcuts are use to create new artworks – exhibited in a series of sculptural paper exhibitions.

En el paisaje interior

Available to order for 24 hours only on the 27th January with complimentary worldwide shipping, El el paisaje interior presents a unique opportunity to acquire one of Tomás Sánchez’s emblematic dreamscapes.

More from Tomás Sánchez

To see more of Tomás’ work, find him on Instagram @tomassanchezstudio or follow the links below to discover two of our earlier collaborations, Contemplar al Otro en Tarde Rosa and Encontrar el Meditador.

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