SELECTIONS FROM INTERNACIONAL REVIEWS
Of all the countries in Latin America, it is Colombia in recent decades which has been represented in the United States by the largest number of gifted artists. Among these ambassadors of art, Sanin has won great respet for her authentic personal style. Unmarked by the tyranny of changing fads, she has continued to proceed on her chosen path. She has created an art in which her mastery of color is second only to her increasingly audacious compositions.
Ida Ely Rubin, art critic, New York, 1980
In spite of the sober clarity of her canvases and of their absolute rectangularlity, Fanny Sanin has to be describes foremost a colorist. Her handsome chromatie chords are unmistakable. She prefers the secondary tones, among them turquoise, lilac, and other cool shades-. With their sobriety and even ssolemnity, they impart to the structural rigor of her paintings a highly poetic touch of melancholy.
Fernando Gamboa, Director, Museum of Modern Art, Mexico City, 1979
Each painting is an integrated and complex set of quadrangular forms, rectangles for the most part, that fall on each side of a vertical .... Its could be said that all the work of the composition is aimed at bringin out that central presence.
The same could be said about the color. The chromatic associations in many cases muted, often searching for subtle changes of ï¿½ntensity, always refined and un common-seem to want to emphasize thï¿½t mysterious, maybe sacred, zone.
Germï¿½n Rubiano Caballero, Dï¿½rector Institute of Esthetic Studies, Bogota, 1979
Like many of her contemporaries, Sï¿½nin expresses herself best on large canvases .... Handling such large surfaces, it should be noted, is a physical strain for a painter who is not endowed with muscular strength. Sanin, however, is an active and dedicated artist, a determined and strong-willed person. If the flamboyance of her working on large surfaces is at, variance with their cool tones, the result creates conflict a component of all good art.
Carla Gottlieb, art histonan, New York, 1976
Fanny Sanin creates calrn works that simultaneously tesitify to clear judgment and to acute sensibility. Her work is a reexï¿½mination of the geometric abstraction in its particular terms, and their pleasant and serene result is an exam ple of the refinement that can be reached with the conscious exploration and development of a highly personal taste.
Eduardo Serrano, Curador, Museum of Modern Art, Bogotï¿½. 1979
In 1936, for the exhibition Cubism and Abstract Art, Alfred Barr, Director of the Museum of Modern Art designed a chart graphically illustrating the development of abstract art from 1890 to 1935. Barr fixes the earliest progenitor of geometric abstraction with Cï¿½zanne and traces it through Cubism, Suprematism, Constructivism, Neoplasticim, and the Bauhaus to 1935. In 1934 Joaquï¿½n Torres Garcï¿½a, returned to Montevideo after living for forty three years in Europe. Torres-Garcï¿½a brought with him "...a desire to create an `American art with pre-Hispanic Andean roots...Torres-Garcias Americanist enterprise was, however, based on the most advanced European abstract movements -Constructivism and Neo Plasticism- and it was as a link to those movements that he influenced the developments under discussion here."
The history of abstract art in Latï¿½n America is a complicated one and, to some extent, is the aggrega tion of stories from many countries. While there was a great deal of interchange and "cross-pollination" the movement, if it is considered as such, developed in a diversity of national and political contexts. Mary Schneider Enrï¿½quez confirms this intricacy: "Although the evolution of geometric abstraction in Latï¿½n Ameri can art has a complex history, one thing is clear: the artists projects and explorations were fueled by a desire for radical change." In the early years of the twentieth century the art market in Colombia was still stalled in the residual tastes of the colonial period and the nineteenth century. However, by the late 1950s Edgar Negret, Eduardo Ramï¿½rez Villamizar, David Manzur, and Omar Rayo were producing and exhibiting geometrically abstracted works of both painting and sculpture. With this in mind, it would be possible to protract Barrs graph and thread it through Montevideo, Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, and Bogotï¿½. It was in this atmosphere that Fanny Sanï¿½n emerged as an artist who was ready for a change and willing to accept the responsibility necessary to meet the challenge of radical change.
Fanny Sanï¿½n, born in 1938, graduated with a Masters of Fine Arts from the Universidad de los Andes at Bogotï¿½ in 1960. From the earliest period of her career Sanï¿½n manifested a profound dedication to abstraction.
While her first abstract works fall finto the category of lyrical or expressionist abstraction, by 1969 she had migrated to the field of hard-edged painting. Then, seemingly abruptly, in 1970 she changed her medium from oil paint to acrylic and began a series of "stripe paintings". The change to acrylic was a logical one, given that the properties of the paint allow the definition of a precise, straight, or hard edge. From that year to the present Fanny Sanï¿½n has continued to devote herself to the development of her visual vocabulary of form, composition and color.
Looking at paintings by Fanny Sanï¿½n is an intellectual exercise in meditation and contemplation, which does, however, require an informed approach. Following her series of stripe paintings, her work quickly evolved into extremely elaborate compositions. Throughout the 1980s the images became increasingly complex, leading to her very rich production during the decade of the nineties. Since the turn of the century, she has entered a period of extraordinary confidence and sophistication. Acrylic No. 3, 2001 embodies all of the qualities that distinguish her work. The composition of this picture is completely controlled, and nothing is left to chance. The design elements recall Josef Albers and his lnteraction of Color (1963). The experience of paging through Albers portfolio of relatively simple compositions can begin to prepare one to look more discerningly at Sanï¿½n. But, as in Albers, the interaction here between color and composition creates the "finished" painting. The painting really cannot exist without both of these elements. At the same time, these highly organized qualities lend an ambiguity that allows ample room for individual, subjective interpretation.
Clearly, these paintings would be rendered lifeless if seen in a monochrome, or shades of gray. It is the color that binds with the compositional elements of each work and gives depth and substance to the static geometry, which forms the structure of each picture. Her remarkable talent to control both of these elements-color and composition-has allowed Sanï¿½n to create, over the last thirty-three years, a body of work that remains very true to her intellectual convictions, but loes not allow for repetition. Her studies, compositions and acrylics depend upon a diversity of line, form, composition, and color that make each unique, but identifiable as an individual part of a larger oeuvre.
In her finished pieces, perhaps more sublimely in the acrylics, there is often an engaging sense of meditation or contemplation. There is a compulsion to "enter" these works, to try to grasp the subtleties of the concrete, formal relationships and the essence of the whole. This is, of course, at the heart of the consideration of abstraction. This quality of introspection, or experienc ing a painting as a discrete creation, without the representation of an object is one of the driving (orces here and of related work. Ad Reinhardt (1913-1967) executed studies in single colors (Black Painting, 1952/3) that would compare to Fannys use of color, in which variations are so slight as to be almost imperceptible. Reinhardt is able to involve the viewer with a single color, on an apparently single plane, with the same intensity and depth. In spite of his association with the abstract expressionists, Reinhardt succeeded not only in abandoning the object and representation, but also left be hind the emotionality often seen in the expressionists. The grid paintings of Agnes Martin (1912 - ), where color sometimes seems to levitate off the surface of the can vas, are equally important examples of completely non representational work that can captivate both the eye and the mind. As seen in Acrylic No. 2, 2001, Fanny Sanï¿½n has reached this same level of expression through the deliberate, concentrated development of her own visual idiom.
The production of her paintings is accomplished with careful planning and great consideration. In general, the artist begins with a study, the equivalent of a drawing done with acrylic paint on paper. She may do many of these until the desired concept is captured, that with the most successful impact. These studies may then be translated into compositions, acrylic on paper or acrylics, which are acrylic paint on canvas. While the studies help to solidify the ultï¿½mate composition, the selection and perfection of the colors occupy a large portion of the time needed to conceive, plan and finish a painting. Mixing and re-mixing dozens of colors until the right hue is achieved, is critical to the look and impression of the final piece. The repetitiveness of this process, with the endless variation of color that is possible, is apparent in the meditative or transcendental qualities of these pictures
In his introductory essay for Abstraction, Geometry, Painting: Selected Geometric Abstract Painting in America Since 1945, Michael Auping observes that "The central issues surrounding abstraction and its relation to the world in which we live are at the very heart of what we think of as modern, and although we have lived with abstraction for almost a century, we would be less than honest if we did not admit that it remains a relatively new language with a complex vocabulary that is still being unraveled"3 Fanny Sanï¿½n confronted the issues of abstraction in the earliest moments of her career. She has continued to define modernism, her art, and her self within the act of meeting that challenge. As she has mastered this complex language, her paintings continue significantly to the unraveling of the meaning of abstraction. In that way, her art also illuminates our "...relation to the world in which we live."
Clayton Kirking, New York, June 2003
by Edward J. Sullivan
On regards Latincollector Gallery exhibition, 2004
Fanny Sanï¿½ns New York apartment in the Upper East Side of Manhattan is also the studio where she works daily, following a strict schedule of painting and drawing. The panorarnic windows allow as much light as possible to permeate the spacious studio and she often spends long periods of time contemplating the sky and the pattems of clouds over the city. She is inherently affected by the subtly changing colors of daylight at the various times of the year and admits that these variations in climactic tonalities are important influences on her imagination.
Upon entering Sanï¿½ns apartment virtually the first thing one sees is a
large abstract canvas. done in the early 1960s. It is a lush and gesturally
generous composition with intersecting patterns of form and color. Although
thï¿½s painting is virtually at the opposite end of the visual spectrum from
the type of strictly controlled geometric forms that she creates today.
there is much in this highly expressionï¿½st composition that serves as the
basis for the rest of her career. The artists deeply visceral relation
Sanï¿½ns uncompromising dedication to hard edged abstraction is now more than thirty five years old. She has drawn the inspiration for her geometric compositions from many of the same sources as those of Herrera. From her for mal training in Colombia and London and her intense travel schedule, she has been able to observe, first hand, examples of virtually all of the major avant-garde movements in the Americas and Europe. The classic names: Mondrian, the Russian Constructivists, the mid century geometric masters such as Ellsworth Kelly and others, are all present in the repertory of images that Sanï¿½n has, literally, at her finger tips.lt is also important to situate her within a Colombian context, as the artist has constant contact with the art world in Bogotï¿½ and, unlike so many expatriate artists, Sanï¿½n forms as much a part of the intellectual milieu of that city as she does of her adopted Manhattan. She retums to Colombia with great frequency and has had numerous major exhibitions there, including the most recent retrospective held in the Colombian capital (at the Biblioteca Luis Angel Arango) and Barranquilla in 2000.
One can date the birth of abstraction in Colombia to the 1949 exhibition of painter Marco Ospina who shocked his contemporaries and his audience with his abstract paintings. Since then such figures as Eduardo Ramï¿½rez Villamizar, Omar Rayo and many others created a loosely-defined "school" of both lyric and hard edge abstractionists that figures among the most distinguished in South America. Fanny Sanï¿½n certainly plays a major role in this group.
Fanny Sanï¿½n did not study architecture, yet there is a remarkable architectonic disposition to her art. Indeed, many of her compositï¿½ons could be defined as studies for imaginary buildings in a monumental, utopian city. She is able to suggest a powerful interplay of interlocking solid forms that take on an atmosphere of structural coherence, yet never are so literally defined as to become illustra tions for a built environment. Sanï¿½n has always been attracted to monumental form. As mentioned above, the buildings of New York City are a constant presence in her visual imagination. In other moments of her life she has been deeply impressed by ancient forms. Mexico has been, since the several years she spent there beginning in 1963, a major point of visual and emotional reference. The colossal structures of the Aztec and Maya civilizations, among others, left an indelible impression on her. The monuments of ancient Egypt or the Greco-Roman buildings throughout the Mediterranean basin have been an equal stimulation. In the end, however, it is the uniqueness of the inexplicable artistic impulse that creates the images that are so characteristic of the work of this painter.
Edward J. Sullivan, Latin Collector Gallery 2004
Exhibition "The Chromatic Structures of Fanny Sanin, 1974-2007"
Instituto Italo-Latino Americano
ï¿½For the city of Rome,
accustomed to great artists, it will be a privilege to receive the Colombian
master painter Fanny Sanin at the Gallery of the Instituto Italo-Latino
Americano. After a few minutes of attentively examining the paintings,
trying to decipher the equation of its narrative, I decide to let myself be
taken in by the rhythm of its multicolor geometry. Then, Fannyï¿½s ouvre
begins to transform itself as a catalyst between the critical thought and
the meditative experience of the abstract language, which allows and looks
for the interior relaxation that without violence cleanses the mental murmur
and reactive thought, and permits us to reach our inner silence. Is as if
the mind ceased its ï¿½judiciousï¿½ action letting it be rocked in its entirety
in the world of the senses where colors grow, intensify and surround us. It
is a game of the mind which needs to be freed from the nervous attachment to
control and the common linguistic codification. Only then, the geometry of
the work appears accessible and sweet. All that is needed is to let yourself
be taken in.ï¿½ Patricia Rivadeneira,
Cultural Secretary, Instituto Italo-Latino Americano, Exhibition catalogue,
Tomado de ArtNexus, 2007