He is arguably Cuba’s most prolific contemporary painter, enchanting his fans with his idealized depictions of luxuriant vegetation, imbued with a sense of meditation and perfect stillness. Just like Russian realist artist Ivan Shishkin, Tomás Sánchez searches for spirituality in his nature-inspired artworks, with the distinction that he often recreates landscapes from his own memory or imagination.
This constant pursuit of the spiritual gets incredibly repetitive and it reveals a relentless desire for peace of mind and equilibrium. To balance out the sheer poetry of his landscapes, Sánchez often times includes its biggest threat, waste, to indicate the recklessness of our modern society. This juxtaposition also contrasts the perennial, idyllic beauty of nature with the careless consumption of human activity, the latter being symbolized so well by trash.
As he describes it: “I have always had two fundamental interests in life: art and meditation, both of them intimately related. The interior spaces that I experience in meditation are converted into the landscapes of my paintings; the restlessness of my mind transformed into landfills”.
Man Crucified in a Dump is rather unique in Sánchez’s repertoire, as it blends environmentalism and religion. A naked, Christ-like figure is nailed to a cross on the ground, amid a landfill abounding with piles of garbage. There is beauty and serenity in this whole setup, a sweet and melancholic resignation, with the trash rising like mountains or waves, as if it’s actually natural to erase nature and replace it with refuse. The crucified man looks completely and surprisingly integrated. Maybe this is a moralizing tale of all the things we’re throwing away – nature, religion, ethics and traditions. But there is nothing condescending in Sánchez’s matter-of-fact approach. The peaceful surrender that washes over this scene offers a meditation on the consequences of our actions and a contemplative study of our current beliefs and values.