Emilio Sanchez American, born Cuba, 1921–1999 Green Shutters, 1998 Oil on canvas Gift of the Emilio Sanchez Foundation, 2011.69
Emilio Sanchez was born in Cuba in 1921, but he moved to New York when he was twenty-three years old to study at the Art Students League. His artwork features various landscapes and buildings from the tropics as well as cityscapes from New York City.
In an interview conducted by Arlene Jacobowitz, assistant curator of paintings and sculpture at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Sanchez was asked what fascinated him about the houses he painted. He replied that he was “struck by the patterns in the little houses… and…when the sun is turned on, it’s absolutely incredible.” He was also quoted as saying that he liked tropical landscapes better, though, and when asked if this had to do with his Cuban background, he answered, “I suppose so, although I’ve been a terrible Cuban: I’ve never lived there [as an adult].” He said he grew more aware of the country when he was away and began to miss it. It was visiting Cuba that led to him becoming more interested in Cuban subjects and their beauty.
Green Shutters is one example of the many architectural paintings that Sanchez completed in his lifetime. I was drawn to this work because of its bright yellows and greens as well as its straight lines. I was impressed by its sharpness and perspective (two things I have trouble with in my own paintings). My curiosity, though, was mainly about the bright and vibrant colors and if they were truly representational. In the interview is where I found my answer, Sanchez states, “I have to tone things down.… What is most interesting is how the sunlight will bring up contrast because…right in the middle of the day when the sun is at its brightest, the sun can wash the color out completely.… So just a little earlier or later I get this wonderful rich shading, especially with yellow that seems to be the best color.… Sometimes I have to wait for the sunny day to get the effect I want.”
I find it amazing that sometimes he actually had to tone down the colors. So when you look at these brilliant depictions of doors and windows, just think that they may be even more brilliant in person.
Emilio Sanchez Foundation. “Emilio Sanchez Biography.” http://www.emiliosanchezfoundation.org/sanchez.html