While this week’s cover by Ramiro Sanchez, “Maria! Maria!” resembles a portrait, it has some similarities with the artist’s striking landscapes. In fact, many of his portraits and figurative pieces have seemed like metaphors for fields, the sky and all manner of natural surroundings. Sanchez’s work, whether images of people or crashing waves, is emotional, evoking psychological states of mind.
Sanchez has been working on both his worldview and his technical craft for a long time, since he was 14 years old, in fact. Leaving his native Venezuela, he moved to Italy, where he enrolled at The Florence Academy of Art, receiving a degree in painting. Besides painting and teaching (he has been an instructor at The Academy since 1997), Sanchez comes to Sag Harbor each summer with his family, producing work of our lovely area, including Long Beach, Long Island Sound and colorful poppy fields.
How did the cover image come about?
“Maria! Maria!” was one of my very first religiously inspired images. The painting was done from life; I used as a model one of my closest friends. The work is an interpretation of the Annunciation of Mary. The young girl listens to this inner voice in full peacefulness. The empty bowl on her lap represents her womb. The white lilies are the symbol of Archangel Gabriel, as in many Dutch and Italian Renaissance paintings.
Is this painting similar to your other figurative works?
This painting is similar in terms of composition, aesthetics and symbolic contact. It also marks the beginning of my interest in religious imagery, which I have been developing ever since.
How about your landscapes? What’s your inspiration for them?
With the turn of the season, I am eager to get out of the studio and paint en plein air. In the last few years, I have dedicated all my landscape painting to East End imagery. Even when I am back in Florence, I make sketches from memory of summers past in the East End. Laura Grenning from Grenning Gallery was right when she promised I would fall in love with the light and nature there.
Was anyone in your family an artist? What was your main motivation to paint?
I heard that my great grandfather was an altar maker in the Andes. Apart from that, most of my motivation comes from my education at Ninos Cantores, the school I attended until I was 18 years old, back in Maracaibo.
What were the most important things you learned in school?
Never forget your roots, culture and tradition and make sure you paint the pictures that you cannot live without.
What have you learned from teaching at The Florence Academy of Art?
It is very satisfying to see students developing their passion, becoming professional artists, respected and renowned. Also, the flow of new students keeps my spirit young and enthusiastic.
What are your summers like in Sag Harbor?
I come to Sag Harbor with all my family, and I mean all my family, including Maya our beagle. While on the East End, I mostly paint, hang out with good friends and enjoy the occasional dip in the ocean. I also exhibit my paintings at the Grenning Gallery, and I have given workshops in Sag Harbor. I love being part of the community.
What are your interests besides art?
I love spending time playing the viola. Among my hobbies, I must mention darts.
What will you be doing in 10 years?
I think that in 10 years, even if I win the lottery, I will be doing exactly what I do today. Enjoying family, the arts and friends and hopefully painting with the same intensity that I do now.
Ramiro Sanchez will have a solo show at Sag Harbor’s Grenning Gallery (17 Washington Street) July 9–27, 2014. For more information, visit grenninghgallery.com or call 631-725-8469.