Tomás Sánchez – Man Crucified in a Dump (1992)

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”.

Tomás Sánchez – Man Crucified in a Dump (1992)
Tomás Sánchez – Man Crucified in a Dump (1992), acrylic on canvas

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.

20 thoughts on “Tomás Sánchez – Man Crucified in a Dump (1992)

    1. Accidentally hit send. At first glance I thought I was up high looking at the top of the head of the Christ-like figure. Then I saw that he was on the ground with the trash. I took this more literally: people have discarded or throw away Christ or, less specific, religion as though He/it had lost meaning or usefulness to them.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I thought I was looking down too, initially. It’s a great visual trick. As for the meaning, I think it also depends on one’s religious beliefs, though I like your literal interpretation.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. How come this has not got any comments yet.
    How terrific is this vision and terrifying as well. Sometimes I feel like I am moving through life on a sea of debris similar to what we have here. I used to fuss a lot a about what we are doing to earth, all that trash and plastic, especially more scenic/picnicky a spot is . Many places in India are a proof of that sadly.
    Then I watched this video by George Carlin
    I rest little easy now. Yet, I am not wasteful but I don’t fret too much about it.

    This painting is fantastic. I also like the fact the painter likes to Meditate. Intriguing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I completely share your view here and want to thank Gabriela for, once more, making me discover such a powerful artwork and artist.
      The plunging perspective, as if Christ and all humanity were on the verge of this abyss of garbage (but is it only material? I am sure fake news could be added to the pile!), it’s a tour-de-force which, as you and the artist say, has this beautiful meditative quality despite the visual horror it can project. Stunning!

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I got really great news for you, Rahul. You just left your 99th comment here! To put things into perspective, I only have 112 posts. YOU ROCK! We need to get you a badge of honor.

      I can’t say I agree with Carlin. The latest article I read was titled “Antarctica is Melting Three Times as Fast as a Decade Ago”. We’re not innocent, by any means. The only way to get people to care – in my view – is to tell them that they’ll get cancer and die sooner from all the pollution and plastics. Asking them to care about the “environment” is too vague.

      And I meditate too!


      1. I am here not because I was reprimanded 😉 , but well it’s always better late than never. I am humbled. I am glad to have chanced on your blog and learnt so much, right from different painting styles, painters to things to look out for in a painting. 🙂

        Yes, Carlin did have very fatalistic attitude there. But for me personally it will be really hard to be indifferent towards a world going to dogs. It breaks my heart whenever I see a tree being chopped. Surely we need more immediate fears for people to take action.
        One hopes it isn’t too late.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This is terrific. There’s something disorienting about the way the horizon is tilted. It really feels like an ocean of trash. And the wood of the cross so close in the foreground makes me feel like I’m on a boat with crucified Jesus. I must look up more of this man’s work.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Well, you do raise a very good point. I just don’t think it would go as smoothly for me. Once I confess that I prefer white wine over red, I’ll be deemed a heretic and sentenced to eternal damnation. I get that all the time.

          Liked by 1 person

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