Lockhart Gallery exhibit reveals human presence, complexities in architecture

Cuban-American artist Emilio Sanchez specialized in depicting architectural spaces through stark light and vibrant color. His prints and paintings, which depict scenes of various international locations throughout much of the 20th century, are simultaneously mathematical and organic.

According to Director of Galleries Cynthia Hawkins, the Emilio Sanchez Foundation's donation of 17 works to the Lockhart, Lederer and Bridge Galleries' permanent collection made the exhibit possible. A selection of the works will be on display in a solo exhibit titled, “Emilio Sanchez: Prints and Drawings.”

The foundation, whose purpose is to preserve and sell Sanchez's artworks after his death in 1999, made the donation in light of the foundation's impending closure, according to Hawkins.

Hawkins added that the donation is especially important to the LLB Galleries' mission of incorporating works “of a variety of different cultures that are essentially American” into its collection. The Emilio Sanchez collection is the first addition of a Latino presence to the LLB Galleries' wider collection.

According to the Emilio Sanchez Foundation's website, Sanchez was born in Cuba in 1921, but moved to New York City in 1944 to train at the Art Students League of New York. He lived in New York City for the rest of his life, but traveled widely, making his work a unique combination of urban American and Latin influences.

The lithographs and paintings displayed in the Lockhart Gallery are remarkable in their pureness of color and tonal accuracy. Sanchez reconstructed deserted porches, open windows and even simple white cornerstones on paper, injecting hints of human presence into many of his works.

Sanchez's primary strength was incorporating strong, confident hues into his work, including blinding whites and brilliant blues and yellows.

Hawkins emphasized Sanchez's Cuban culture as a central influence in his hyper-realistic, pure style.

“Those nice yellows and reds and greens are unique,” she said. “They're part of his environmental, tropical kind of vernacular.”

“Casita Doble,” a lithograph depicting a blue and yellow porch, shining and shadowed by direct sunlight, exhibits the coloristic sophistication that makes Sanchez's work so pleasing. The image is logical and clear, yet surreal at the same time because of its sheer perfection. Sanchez's meticulous shadows and tonal variety make seemingly austere architectural settings intriguing and beautiful.

The exhibit will be on display in the Lockhart Gallery through May 4.