Amelia Pelez fused European artistic models, such as Braque's Cubism and Matisse's decoratives arabesques, with native artistic traditions, such as Cuba's colonial architectural decoration. These characteristics are evident in this untitled still life of 1950. Here, Pelez' bold linear design barely contains an explosion of colors--in this case a combination of the complementary red-orange and olive green, with large areas of bright lemon yellow. The present work is a fine example of her synthetic style in which form and content are inseparable. Its composition is at once an autonomous abstract design and a complex sign of lo cubano. In regards to the latter, the composition suggests the stained glass fan-windows of Cuba's colonial architecture. Alejo Carpentier's apt description of such windows applies well to this painting: "they are enormous glass fans that crack the sun's brilliant impulses, moving from astral fire's excessive yellow and excessive gold, to a deep blue, an aqua green, a lenient orange, a pomegranate red, and an opalescent white that calms the sun and the Cuban glare" (Tientos y diferencias 1967). Its composition, particularly the central pattern motif, also suggests another aesthetic object then found in the traditional upper class Cuban home: embroidered tablecloths. Both of these objects-stained glass windows and embroidered tablecloths-were part of anonymous craft traditions, associated by the artist and part of the Cuban intelligentsia of the 1940s with a white-creole past and presented as signs of lo cubano.
In Pelez' art the lines between beautiful form and significant content, personal feelings and collective signs, the national and the international are closely interwoven. Her art, as seen in this painting, also fuses a solid knowledge of the craft of painting with a highly original artistic vision, which puts her and her art within the first ranks of modern Latin American art.
Juan A. Martnez, Ph.D. Miami 1998