Gabriel Sanchez paints the strength, hope and vulnerability of Cuban youth

Not only do Gabriel’s paintings emit a scorching sense of heat from the warm Cuban weather, they also portray a deep connection between artist and subject. You can tell instantly how both sides are familiar with one another, a relationship fuelled by Gabriel’s ethos for representing the personalities of everyone he meets. “I love to capture the strength and vulnerability of young people in Cuba,” he adds. Inspiration, then, can spawn from the smallest of interactions to the more allusive, like when an artist expresses themselves through their mediums, “especially when an audience is tuned in to them”. It’s this energy between people that Gabriel seems to be most intrigued by.
A piece named Mirando al Mundo and Looking at the World [pictured above] are exemplary of this artistic mission. Featuring three young Cubans naked on a rooftop, “unaware of the viewer”, the audience can only see them from behind. “It is a painting about innocence, vulnerability, freedom and hopefulness as they look at the world below and imagine a better future,” he explains. Interestingly, the palette was devised from the colours of the Cuban flag, chosen by way of wanting the viewer to “feel how Cubans may feel living on this island with a lot of material strife”. Like the rest of his works, it’s immensely personal and thought-provoking. He concludes: “I even consider this painting a self-portrait of sorts.”
Once an idea has sparked, the artist paints in two half-hour segments throughout the day, leaving a healthy portion for spending time with his new family and managing the “responsibilities as a father”. The home-studio days are therefore attuned with this mindset – an intuitive, balanced and fatherly one – as he paints with a coffee in hand, while the afternoons see him knuckle down on bigger paintings. “And in the evening when everyone is asleep, I work another session at home,” he says. The fruit of his hard work is a portfolio of numerous characters – figures from real life – plus a mix of classical and experimental aesthetics.

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