Emiliano Sanchez, Romare Bearden, and more

Tuesday Night Painting #1

Emiliano Sanchez, In the Shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge, Oil on canvas, 48 x 60 in

Hello to all you painters,

This is the first installment of what will hopefully be many more emails. I hope you're all staying healthy and staying active despite all the craziness that is happening lately.

Now that our time at CCAE is over, I wanted to start this list to stay in touch and keep you updated on what I'm doing and also what's happening in the world of painting. I can tell you that lots of my colleagues and artist friends are looking for ways to stay active and stay creative whether they're under lockdown or not, so I figured writing something like this would be a good kind of mental exercise.

My goal is to send you a couple of artists each week that will mimic the slideshows we used to have at the start of every class. If I manage to keep this thing going for long enough then I'd love to expand it to include even more information, links to art shows, interviews, instagrams, etc.

But for now, I'll share with you some images of a Cuban artist I enjoy a lot, as well as a link to Romare Bearden's lesser known abstract work, and I'll finish by including some tunes that I've been listening to lately.

Emiliano Sanchez, In the Shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge, Color lithograph, 21.5 x 30.5 in

Emiliano Sanchez was born in Camagüey, Cuba in 1921. He trained at the Art Students League in 1944 when he moved to New York City where he lived until he died in 1999.

Sanchez was always interested in the way light and shadow would fall across different architectural forms. His early work from the 50s is stylized but realistic. The image pictured above is a print held in the collection of the MFA Boston, a smaller version of the image you saw at the top of this email.

In the 70s and 80s his work becomes more abstract, as he focuses on creating geometric compositions, still architectural based, but cropping and framing the buildings and shadows he sees more intently.
Hoboken, Oil on canvas, 32 x 40 in
Casita, Oil on canvas, 60 x 60 in
Open Windows, Oil on canvas, 36 x 48 in
Some of Sanchez's NYC-inspired paintings make use of a somewhat drab color scheme, which is great if you're a fan of neutral colors. If you are after a more colorful color scheme to inspire you, then you will be more interested in his paintings inspired by trips to Cuba, as well as his paintings inspired by trips to Morocco and other Mediterranean countries.
Venita Blanca, Oil on canvas, 36 x 48 in

In a 1967 interview with the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Sanchez described his similarly composed renderings of houses in the Caribbean: “What is most interesting is how the sunlight will bring up contrast, because early in the day or late in the day, or for that matter right in the middle of the day when the sun is at its brightest, the sun can wash the color out completely, whitening it all out. So just a little earlier or a little later I get this wonderful rich shading, especially with the yellow, that seems to be the best color. And when there’s no sun at all, it can be so drab. Sometimes I have to wait for the sunny day to get the effect I want.”

Street in Rio, Oil on canvas, 48 x 48 in
Garden Wall, Color Lithograph, 21.5 x 31.5 in
Untitled, Oil on canvas, 30 x 24 in
As you could probably guess, I'm a big fan of his geometric compositions and architectural themes. He had a keen eye for light and shadow and the sharp lines and shapes they can create. He would camp out in front of different locations, just waiting for the angle of the sun to hit the building just the right way to make for a perfect composition. I like this approach, and I like the way he tiptoes between abstraction and representation. Even though no people are depicted in his compositions, the buildings don't feel abandoned to me, and I don't get a lonely or eerie feeling. Rather, I imagine all the people in this world to be resting up, maybe taking an afternoon nap to get out of the bright sunlight. The colors are too vivid and too colorful to be anything other than either happy or peaceful to me.
La Ventanita, Color lithography, 21 x 27.5 in
La Panderia, Color lithography, 23 x 31.5 in
Hope you enjoyed the colors and compositions of those paintings. If you want some additional painting inspiration this week you can take a look at this recent NY Times article exploring the lesser known abstract works of Romare Bearden. Many of you will probably be familiar with Bearden's collage works, but he also studied fine art and painting in Europe after his time in the Army, post-WWII.  Bearden felt conflicted between his pure love of and desire to create abstract painting and his desire to create collages embedded with social commentary which celebrated and memorialized the African-American cultural experience that he took part in and grew up in. He carried across some of that collage inspiration into some of his abstract works. I love the combination of textures and drips with the solid colors of the background in this piece:

“Untitled (Green),” undated, oil, casein and colored pencil on canvas that has been cut and mounted on painted board, complicating the artist’s process.
That's all for this week. I plan on writing to you again next Tuesday to keep the painting vibes going. To get you through to the next time I'll leave you with some tunes that I've been listening to lately in the studio:

Chaos in the CBD - 78 to Stanley Bay
Tennis - Runner
Manha - Azymuth
The Durutti Column - Otis
Bruce Trail - Bridgework

See you next time!
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