Zilia Sánchez: A Minimalist Mulata – a Caribbean Island

/ 8 December, 2013

During the late 1940s (…), Sánchez participated regularly in the Cuban visual art landscape, taking part in national salons and significant group art exhibitions. By 1953 Sánchez was the only woman exhibiting with Los Once, that was housed by the Sociedad Cultural Nuestro Tiempo, the cultural arm of the Partido Socialista Popular (Popular Socialist Party, the name used by the Cuban Communist Party at that time).

(…) Usually Sánchez’ artworks have been composed by identical sequential modular structures that are repeated several times without a single variation, creating visual rhythmical arrangements that are enacted and re-enacted in a metaphorical and abstract manner. These suggestive simple forms are associated with feminine sexual body parts, through which Sánchez is proudly embodying and expressing her sexuality. The modular compositions evoke an active Zen-like feeling that is open to flexible transformations and (re)organizations. This combination of a unique spirit and ascetic manifestation of eroticism has led Latin American art historian Martha Traba, in her influential book Two Vulnerable Decades in Latin American Art 1950-1970, to describe Sánchez’ body of work as one enriched by a “dynamic research full of curiosity and passion, one that seeks to transcend the ubiquitous formal search.”1

(…) Perhaps for those more familiar with Sánchez’ practice, traces of Abstract Expressionism and Tachist works were notably absent. Nonetheless, this survey exhibition served as a great reintroduction of Zilia Sánchez’ body of work to the New York art world, showcasing a cohesive and strong unique voice that has built a personal discourse inside and out of Minimalist theories. This Minimalist Mulata has been galloping around her islands and coming back as the strong force she always has been, a stormy Caribbean Valkyrie.


  1. Martha Traba: Dos Décadas Vulnerables en las Artes Plásticas Latinoamericanas 1950/1970, Siglo XXI, 1973, Mexico City, p. 174.

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