Step into the world of Zilia Sánchez, a visionary artist whose groundbreaking contributions to geometric abstraction and feminist expression have captivated audiences for decades. From April to October 2024, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, invites you to embark on an immersive exploration of Sánchez’s multifaceted artistic evolution in the exhibition “Topologies / Topologías.”

At the heart of the exhibition lies Sánchez’s iconic shaped canvas paintings, which defy traditional notions of painting by assuming bodily shapes while retaining abstract qualities. Through these dynamic works, Sánchez skillfully navigates formalist concerns while subtly grappling with significant social issues such as gender, feminism, and identity formation. As visitors traverse the galleries, they will encounter a diverse array of Sánchez’s works, spanning from her vibrant abstract paintings to her more recent explorations of sensuous forms and geometric abstractions.

Born in Havana in 1926, Sánchez emerged as a pivotal figure in a generation of Cuban painters who sought to depart from figurative painting and embrace abstraction as a means of artistic expression. Amidst the political turmoil of the time, Sánchez began to develop increasingly complex formal proposals and experiment with new abstract languages. Notably, the exhibition showcases a selection of Sánchez’s “Afrocubanos” series, which depict abstracted, stylized figures inspired by ritual practices and religious effigies, providing insight into the artist’s early exploration of identity and cultural heritage.

Following her departure from Cuba in 1960, Sánchez embarked on a journey that would take her to New York, Madrid, and eventually Puerto Rico, where she has resided since 1971. Throughout her travels, Sánchez continued to push the boundaries of artistic expression, experimenting with nontraditional materials and exploring themes related to the four elements and abstract concepts such as equation and succession. In Puerto Rico, Sánchez’s work took on a distinctly feminist perspective, challenging the rigid conventions of European modernism with an emphatic embrace of the female form.

As visitors immerse themselves in “Topologies / Topologías,” they will be accompanied by an exhibition catalogue featuring new photography, scholarly essays, and archival materials that shed light on the artist’s life and work. Through her bold experimentation with form, color, and texture, Zilia Sánchez invites viewers to reconsider the boundaries of artistic expression and embrace the transformative power of geometric abstraction and feminist art.

Spanning approximately thirty works produced between 1950 and 1996, the exhibition offers a comprehensive survey of Sánchez’s oeuvre, providing a nuanced understanding of her artistic evolution over the course of seven decades. Each work serves as a testament to Sánchez’s unwavering commitment to pushing the boundaries of artistic expression and challenging societal norms, making her a true pioneer in the world of contemporary art.

“Topologies / Topologías” serves as a celebration of Zilia Sánchez’s enduring legacy and a testament to her profound impact on the art world. As visitors engage with her works, they are invited to embark on a journey of discovery, exploring the intersections of form, identity, and cultural heritage through the lens of one of Latin America’s most revered artists.

Zilia Sanchez: 7 Artistic Revelations in Topologies
Zilia Sanchez: 7 Artistic Revelations in Topologies

About CANY:

Cuba Art NY (CANY) is a not-for-profit, tax-exempt organization that promotes the work of contemporary Cuban born artists living outside of Cuba.

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