Gabriel Sanchez recent paintings focus on Cuban current events, politics, and daily life as seen through the lens of portraiture. His work explores how proximity and union, ever-present aspects of Cuban society, inform notions of solitude and intimacy. Each painting captures a small scene of mundane events that occur daily on the island. In these snapshots the distractions of urban life are minimized and attention is brought to bear on a particular and present moment. Sanchez’s oil paintings are carefully rendered with classical technique. His use of realism produces “an authentic and inescapable illusion of existence” that brings the viewer into a closer relationship with his subject. The figures portrayed—his fiancée, family, friends, and acquaintances—serve as depictions of the warm yet stoic nature of Cuban culture that has changed little over time—a reminder to the world of what has been lost. Sanchez excels at creating scenes of togetherness and social unity.
Gabriel Sanchez is a Cuban-American artist. Born in 1993 in Miami, Florida, he received his Bachelors of Fine Arts at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Solo exhibitions include Mirando al mundo (2021) and Silencio (2022), both at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles, and Remote Generation (2019) at Lora Schlesinger Gallery, Santa Monica, CA. Group exhibitions include Exit 26 (2022) at Monti 8, Latina, IT; Shattered Glass (2021) presented by Jeffrey Deitch during Art Basel Miami Beach; Stay with me (2020) at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA; Figures (2019), Lora Schlesinger Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; as well as Tiny Visions, Hive Gallery, Los Angeles; Synchronicity, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO; Take Me Back to November, 1015 Pearl St, Boulder, CO; Where We Stand, Visual Arts Complex, Boulder, CO; Artmix, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, Boulder, CO; Something that Means Something, Madelife, Boulder, CO; and Kings Exhibition, Visual Arts Complex, Boulder, CO. Sanchez splits his time between Colorado and Cuba. His work is in the collection of the Xioa Museum, Rizhao, China; Kaiser School of Medicine, Pasadena, CA; the Pizzuti Collection, Columbus, OH, Beth Rudin Dewoody Collection, Palm Beach, FL; Bill and Cindy Gautreaux Collection, Kansas City, among other private collections.
It is within this context of national trauma that Gabriel Sanchez paints people, his friends and acquaintances in Havana and other places, many of them social outsiders who make their way through these troubled days. They are young people mostly, in their 20s or 30s, an age of dreams and ambitions.
Sanchez is a 29 year old Cuban-American born in Miami. His painted subjects are Cubans who, while desperate to leave Cuba, have a Cuban sensibility that is tough to forsake. While Sanchez’s painted portraits seem flattened in dimension/technique they are full of humanity. The viewer witnesses the angst of being young and in Cuba (Sanchez’s perspective). This is a warm, understandable exhibition where portraits tell the story.
Gabriel Sanchez uses portraiture as a means to make visible the contemporary reality of Cuban citizens. Stranded on an oppressive island, young Cubans are angry and disillusioned. Sanchez finds himself amidst these tensions in his intimate portraits of those closest to him as well as complete strangers. Sanchez renders the humanity of Cubans with tenderness; he captures their vulnerability, but also their strength and spirit.
There’s something about Gabriel Sanchez’s work that’s almost addictive. Maybe it’s the serotonin-boosting colour palettes – something that’s been lacking here in the UK – or his ability to capture friendship, hope and intimacy. Either way, the audience are invited to learn more of the people he’s painting, whether it’s by listening in on a phone call or observing a trio (in the nude) as they peak over a wall.
In the tradition of 20 century great Romare Bearden, Texas native Evita Tezeno creates richly embellished collages depicting the same Black woman in a variety of situations, including the play of emotions she felt during the pandemic lock-down last year. Tezeno explores our limited lifespan, sheltering in place, and hopeful transformation. Collectors loved them; the NADA booth quickly sold all her work. // “Shattered Glass” tells an evocative story of strength by those often marginalized because of race, ethnicity and sexual identity through works such as Gabriel Sanchez’s “Babalao Pastor, Yoruba Priest.”
Despite the artist’s more provocative paintings that attempt to provide social commentary about Cuba, it is when Sanchez’s attention is truly focused — in his reverential tribute to his wife, “Laura” (2020), for example — that the viewer is compelled to start paying attention, too. The exquisite amount of tenderness he takes, with each tendril of her hair, the exact purse of her lips, even the wisps of her lower eyelashes, is a reminder that paying attention to others is sometimes the most radical act of all.
Capturing artists, writers, photographers, dancers, and opera singers living and working in Cuba, Gabriel Sanchez’s exhibition at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles is dedicated to the Cuban avant-garde community from the perspective as a first-generation Cuban-American. “Mirando Al Mundo” (Looking at the World) documents the artist’s creative contemporaries—often naked, or isolated against solid colored backgrounds or blue skylines—with inquisitiveness and sensitivity. In the press release, Sanchez reveals many of his models are openly gay in a country that stifles #LGBTQ expression, yet are willing to tell their stories through his paintings. The exhibition is an empowering portrayal of a generation who are stripped bare of garb and fable in order to redefine an abstruse reality.
"My paintings recreate moments and situations in life that we might encounter. The purpose of my realism is to attract the audience closer to the subject's message. The figures that I paint carry a history of each being that any person could relate to and understand the conflicts that individuals transmit. My current project is works in dialogue with the Cuban culture. Each painting is a small scene of the events that happen daily."
The exhibition is a series of portraits of young Los Angelenos that captures the condition of isolation in a world full of technological distractions. Although more connected than ever with the rise of social media, studies suggest that people are losing their ability to cultivate meaningful interactions. Younger generations in particular – who came of age during this technological shift – have been severely impacted, and report experiencing high levels of social isolation, inadequacy and anxiety that is exacerbated by the culture of hyper-exposure society has embraced.