(1957 Atzompa, Oax. México)
He was part of that group who joined Rufino Tamayo’s Visual Arts workshop in the early 1970s, organized by Roberto Donis. Tamayo brought Oaxacan experience to the world. And Tamayo brought a generation of young artists into being.
Sánchez’s paintings are a tribute to ancestral memories in a time when the dialogue with the past is more important than ever. Trees grow out of skulls, a skeleton holds a lamp, the Virgin of Guadalupe, a puma, faces and ancient masks, fruit, fish, birds fly, bodies interweave with the earth, the earth body, all sorts of things jump out at you. There are echoes of the ancient Tlacuilos, Zapotecs and Mixtecs in Cecilio Sánchez’s incredible earth fusions.
These visual legends are not fixed. As stories, they flow like a river. Images float as if the air itself contained the memories of other places, other times. Here is an art as ephemeral as time that binds all these visualized emotions of communities, of families, of those that disappeared, and those that remain. It’s all in the surfaces and movement of lines, of color, and incredible closeness to life.
The amate paper’s textures evoke the landscape of Oaxaca itself. Amate is a type of bark paper that has been manufactured by hand in Mexico since the precontact times. You can imagine an infinity of things in this material.
Sánchez’s incredible paintings on amate tree bark express a totality, without really making an effort. It is natural. Is it heaven or a peyote dream? The landscape is in the material, even before the artist adds something to it. The graphic sensibility is there too. In other works, in other worlds (for each painting is an entire world) you can see traces of real plants, of corn leaves, of sand from the land. These materials come from a place the ancestors, and people today, farm for sustenance. They are a reminder of the ecosystem we are part of.
He has maintained a constant dialogue with amate paper. He creates on this sacred paper and explores the surface contours and their possibilities. He avoids trends and market vagaries. Like a comet he cycles into and out of the world of Oaxaca artists following two or three “polar stars” that guide him, almost always from afar and with a great deal of respect. He has found an incontrovertible coma and tail of possibilities in Mesoamerican iconography, more for its philosophical depth than for its aesthetic character.