• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 1907

    Latin American Sale Evening Session

    19 - 20 November 2007, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 73

    Tomas Sanchez (Cuban B. 1948)

    Al sur del Calvario

    Price Realised  


    Tomas Sanchez (Cuban B. 1948)
    Al sur del Calvario
    signed and dated 'Tomás Sánchez 94' (lower right) also signed again, titled and dated 'Tomás Sánchez, AL SUR DEL CALVARIO, ACRILICO 1994' (on the reverse)
    acrylic on canvas
    36 x 48 in. (91.5 x 122 cm.)
    Painted in 1994.

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Beginning in 1980, the artist Tomás Sánchez, became interested in doing landscape paintings about landfills. The first of such works dates to this year. Sánchez, who at the time was still living in Havana, recalled in an interview with scholar Edward J. Sullivan: "This subject has always fascinated me."(1) He mentions how people would carelessly throw away objects that although not useless, were discarded as garbage if partly broken or soiled. Thus, he began collecting these assorted tarecos, (bric-a-brac) and because he could fix them, he eventually would give them away to friends. In fact, he began preparing additional works related to trash in conjunction with an exhibition in Barcelona after winning the Joan Miró Prize. By 1989, the artist was "really immersed in the garbage theme."(2) As he began traveling to places like Mexico City, he discovered additional garbage sites; these he documented and kept as photographic references. When he won the Miró Prize, many in Cuba were surprised as they had little regard for a "landscape artist." Sánchez never set out to be a landscape artist; while in art school he rebelled against this genre or as he prefers to call them "tourist landscapes with their picturesque scenes of the huts, oxen, royal palms, etc."(3)

    Sánchez, who claims affinities with the artists of the Hudson River School and also with the Romantic Caspar David Friedrich, however differs--they were Transcendentalists; he does not merely contemplate nature but is within its realm. He credits his exercises in meditation and yoga as significant factors in his spiritual growth. Through his practice of Siddha Yoga, he has communed with a consciousness--in union with the universe and credits the lessons learned under meditation with allowing him to feel a complete state of fulfillment.

    The quasi-surrealist paintings of trash sites are urban landscapes and as his vast panoramas of lush forests or still waters by a placid lakes--are contemplative reflections about the human condition and nature. Al sur del Calvario, 1994, is filled with the trash of contemporary materials--the objects we are content to devour when new and discard when they have ceased to interest us. It is the thrill of the new that fascinates this post modernist consumerist society. What appear to be three crosses in the horizon of the painting refer to a crucifixion more than 2000 years ago. Sánchez has often expressed his own concerns about the planet and the destruction of the ecological systems in his many basureros, as these works are known. In viewing these sublime works, we come face to face with destruction but also with a reality that is palpable yet also full of hope. The crosses stand as a symbol of salvation.

    1) E. J. Sullivan, Tomás Sánchez, Skira, Milan, 2003, p. 18.
    2) Sullivan, p. 18.
    3) Ibid., p. 18.


    Private collection, Miami.

    Saleroom Notice

    Please note this lot is sold with a photo certificate signed by the artist and dated October 11, 2007.


    E. J. Sullivan and G. García Márquez, Tomás Sánchez, Milan, 2003, p.170, no. 141 (illustrated in color).
    I. O. Rey, ed. Tomás Sánchez: Paintings, Coral Gables, 1996, (illustrated in color).