Zilia Sánchez’s work is characterized by her distinctive approach to formal abstraction through the use of undulating silhouettes, muted color palettes, and a unique, sensual vocabulary. She is primarily recognized for her shaped canvases, first created in Havana in the 1950s and further developed while living in Havana, New York City, and Madrid. Sánchez’s signature style consists of stretching canvas over hand-molded wooden armatures and painting them with acrylic. Over her 65-year career, Sánchez has explored the juxtapositions between the feminine and the masculine, the painterly and the sculptural, the personal and the universal, the exterior body and the interior self. The reduced color palettes in her compositions as well as the serial processes she employs, connect her to Minimalism, though the sensuality and embrace of the curve in her work bear witness to the distinct language Sánchez has developed.
Sánchez’s work had rarely been seen outside of Puerto Rico before her 2013 survey at Artists Space, New York, and 2014 solo exhibition at Galerie Lelong, New York. A solo exhibition of Sánchez’s work will be presented at the Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., in 2019. Sánchez’s work is featured in public collections including the Walker Art Center, Minnesota; Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.; Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires, Argentina; Colby College Museum of Art, Maine; Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico; and Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico.
Sánchez was born in 1926 in Havana, Cuba. The artist lives and works in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where she permanently settled in the early 1970s.