Soothing minimalism: A critique of Emilio Sanchez’s Snite exhibit
Gracie Simoncic | Monday, November 22, 2021
Notre Dame’s newly acquired Emilio Sanchez pieces embody technical excellence while successfully connecting with audiences through soothing imagery and colors.
Often, when we think of art, we envision subversion and complexity imbued with deep philosophical meaning. However, Sanchez’s work takes a more simplified, minimalistic approach characterized by a a geometric style and a depiction of everyday objects. Sanchez was a Cuban American artist who most famously worked with architectural subjects and produced lithographs, which are prints drawn onto flat stone.
Sanchez is also known for being one of the few artists to have their work displayed on a United States Postal Service stamp. This honor speaks to his incredible talent and wide influence, as well as his status as a decorated artist with multiple awards and exhibitions. Recently, two Sanchez pieces have been donated to Notre Dame’s Snite Museum of Art. Displayed in the Stairwell Exhibit, these pieces make up a small exhibit that accurately represents Sanchez’s creative style.
Sanchez’s works — some of which are displayed on the USPS stamps — tend to follow a unified theme: They all look like “zoomed in” landscapes. For instance, one will focus on a door, another on a window or the side of a building. While the subject matter of these paintings might seem simple, the depth Sanchez is able to create still draws viewers in.
“Ty’s Place” was one of the two pieces displayed at the Snite. A colorful lithograph on paper, this piece exemplifies Sanchez’s command of line work. The piece depicts the side of a soft, “sky blue” colored building. This building seems to be a home, as evinced by the white shutter hanging mostly open from the window. The window frame is marked by an eye-catching pop of chartreuse that creates a subtle contrast with the white and blue of the house itself.
The house’s actual window, though, is completely black, obstructing our view of the interior. This void shows the depth of color Sanchez can create, and its presence in the painting could mean multiple things; it might be intended for viewers to interpret what’s inside the house for themselves — or, possibly, for them to be able to see their own faces reflected in the window by the glass of the piece’s frame.
Sanchez’s work is heavily inspired by his experience in architecture. This influence is made clear by the precision with which he approaches the depiction of windows and doors. There is very little abstraction in his work. Visually, it evokes a sense of being very “clean cut.” The artist’s work is very soothing, thanks to the color pallets he uses, as well as his focus on one or two specific objects.
Upon seeing Sanchez’s work for the first time, I felt myself wanting to sit in the presence of his paintings and continue to observe them, lulled as I was by their simple beauty.
Emilio Sanchez’s exhibit will be on display at the Snite Museum from Nov. 19 to Dec. 21.