Emilio Sánchez, Casita al Mar
color lithograph, 22 x 29 ½ inches.
Gift of the Emilio Sánchez Foundation. 
©Emilio Sanchez Foundation

Paloma Vianey, Chamarra No. 6: Tortillería
oil on painting and zipper on canvas,
40 x 30 x 1.5 inches.
Courtesy of the artist


An Uncanny Sense of Place

June 08, 2024 to November 24, 2024

Emilio Sánchez (b. 1921 Camagüey, Cuba – 1999 New York) and Paloma Vianey (b. Ciudad Juárez, México) investigate line, color, light, and space in their formal studies, reflecting an interest and passion for architectural motifs. Adopting the visual vocabulary of photography and painting, their cropped views reveal fragmented narratives balanced by vibrant warm colors and brightly lit vistas. 

The portrayal of vernacular architecture and food stands demonstrates a curiosity with the quotidian and the simplicity of life. Yet, the specter of humans through their apparent absence evokes notions of identity, memory, loss, and exile. Read within the context of the recent coronavirus pandemic, the artworks raise questions on the whereabouts of the inhabitants and the subsistence of the community. Alternatively, foreclosure and sites of violence are also summoned.

Inspired by New York and Boston as well as Camagüey and Cienfuegos, Sánchez focused on exploring modernist languages as seen through the apparent affinity in his oeuvre to Edward Hopper (b. 1882 New York – 1967) and Ed Ruscha (b. 1937 Omaha, NE). Yet, as John Angeline explains, Sánchez “flouted the dominant art historical attitudes of the time” to investigate the possibilities each afforded him.

Inviting a critical lens upon the urban metropolis, burrito stands, tortillerías, and clamato shops become central to Vianey. Nonetheless, despite their popularity in cities such as Los Angeles, New York, or the U.S.-Mexico frontera, here they remain abandoned and forgotten. In Vianey’s Chamarra series, the need to protect for the community becomes apparent through the painting’s facture. Zippers dominate the compositions to signal the safeguarding of both the paintings and the architectural settings. Vianey’s experimental approach departs from the rigid geometric components used by Sánchez yet similarly provides an uncanny sense of place.

This exhibition was curated by Adriana Miramontes Olivas, PhD, Curator of Academic Programs and Latin American and Caribbean Art.