Elsie Sanchez

Artist Statement

I’ve always been fascinated by the intricacies of medieval tapestries: the texture of the weaving and the detailed patterns of all kinds. These characteristics continue to inspire my abstract paintings. But before I put oil onto canvas, I make countless quick pen-and-ink line drawings on paper. I am looking for something: an interaction or pattern that my inner eye recognizes as something more than just a line—an expression. As each painting develops and changes, the drawing serves only as a reminder of that special interaction or detail of line that initially spoke to me. Almost always, however, a remnant or ghost of that special something will have its place in the finished painting.

The intricacies in my paintings suggest the complexities of our bodies. The paintings’ dimensions relate to and speak of the human body: the height of a person, perhaps with arms raised, the reach of spread arms in the larger canvases; the expanse or intimacy of gestures in smaller ones. Their physicality—the weight and deep texture they end up conveying—result from my physical process, in which I weave the paint, adding and removing thin glazes while little by little selectively allowing remnants of the glaze to penetrate the crevices. In this way I seek to instill each passage of painting with a myriad of possibilities that I then conceal or painstakingly pull out to reveal.

The impulses and intensity that my body and hand use to create, obscure, uncover, and obliterate details and patterns reflect my efforts to reconcile what the painting wants and what I want. Often this produces a feeling that the compositions move in and out or vibrate; I like to say that the paintings breathe. Their density and physical depth are offset by a little awkwardness that comes from the struggle of my interaction or conversation with each painting. I want this to provide a sense of vulnerability through which viewers can enter and connect with my work. Through my physical and nurturing connection to painting I hope to capture such sensations as calmness and intensity, vulnerability and strength, agitation and peace.

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