Featured in
Issue 228

Sandra Cinto’s Constellation of Cosmic Skyscapes

At Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York, the artist reimagines our celestial and natural worlds in a suite of new paintings 

BY Rebecca Rose Cuomo in Exhibition Reviews , US Reviews | 27 APR 22

Sandra Cinto’s ‘Melody to the Stars’ is a joyful ode to the wonders of the natural world and a celebration of our human capacity to engage with and reimagine it. Opening with a series of eight new paintings titled ‘Vôo’ (Flight, 2022) – a constellation of cosmic skyscapes – we are transported into a swirling nocturnal universe in which glittering, undulating matter appears to be in the process of magically materializing. Galactic clusters, crystalline structures, exuberant wave forms and geometric webs emerge from an ethereal spectrum of blue. Bridges, ladders, celestial spheres, rocky cliffs, whimsical swings and chandeliers painted by a fine brush and careful hand conjure playful reveries and generate dynamic movement. Conceived as a singular installation, the paintings are evenly spaced around the room, orchestrating a melodic sequence that develops like a luminous arpeggio, leading us on a fanciful journey through the night sky. Our eye floats across the canvases, unencumbered by the boundless blue horizon.

Sandra Cinto, Grande Sol (Great Sun) 2022 Acrylic on canvas 106 1/4 x 106 1/4 inches; 270 x 270 cm (TBG 23566)
Sandra Cinto, Grande Sol (Great Sun), 2022, acrylic on canvas 2.7 × 2.7 m. Courtesy: the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York / Los Angeles

For over three decades, Cinto has created work that unites drawing, painting, photography, sculpture, installation and performance. Through lyrical landscapes that bloom with sinuous, swirling forms and rich symbolism, she opens a portal into the forces that animate, illuminate and texturize Earth and sky. Her intricate environments immerse us in surging seas with shifting masses and pulsing liquidity. They elevate us towards the heavens in a universe where the familiar laws of physics do not apply. She freezes ephemeral weather phenomena, capturing torrential rain, snowy blizzards, the dreamy drama of fog and mists and clouds as they thicken and disperse. From imaginary mountain ranges to phantasmal shorelines, aqueous continents to astronomical bodies, Cinto transports us to vast non-places we can enter only metaphysically. 

Sandra Cinto, Vôo I (Flight I) 2022 Acrylic on canvas 65 x 86 5/8 inches; 165 x 220 cm (TBG 23558)
Sandra Cinto, Vôo I (Flight I), 2022, acrylic on canvas, 1.6 × 2.2 m. Courtesy: the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York / Los Angeles

Moving to the gallery upstairs, we reach two exuberant yellow and orange paintings representing the sun, hung at opposite ends of the room. Set against a geometric corona reminiscent of a patchwork quilt, the octagonal sun of Grande Sol (Great Sun, 2022) shines on the far wall, the largest single work in the show. Fields of magnetic force effusively radiate from the stellar core like luminescent sparks. Energetic lines painted in metallic gold acrylic are caught by sunbeams from the skylight above. Cinto’s binary star system is orbited by several small wooden tableaux from her ‘Library of the Sun’ series (2022). Covered by drawings and paintings of otherworldly seas and skies, these intimate objects seem to reflect upon the power of books and education to enlighten, guiding us into alternate realities and new possibilities. Education is important to Cinto, who is a former teacher; she regularly hosts workshops and residencies at her São Paulo studio/library, Ateliê Fidalga, which she shares with her husband, artist Albano Afonso. In the space, Cinto reinforces her commitment to creating a generative, optimistic and empowering environment for learning. 

Sandra Cinto, Untitled III (from the Library of the Sun) 2022 Acrylic and permanent pen on wood 7 1/4 x 5 x 1 inches; 18.4 x 12.7 x 2.5 cm (TBG 23570)
Sandra Cinto, Untitled III (from the Library of the Sun), 2022, acrylic and permanent pen on wood, 18.4 × 12.7 × 2.5 cm. Courtesy: the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York / Los Angeles

The studio is also pictured in the upstairs project room, which Cinto has transformed into an interactive workspace that pays homage to drawing as a source of connection and raw, multisensorial creativity. Framed works on paper present preparatory sketches for the artist’s tile installation on the rooftop of the new Rosewood Hotel in São Paulo, and a few prints produced in collaboration with Afonso (all 2022). A book with accordion-style leporello binding sits silently next to a stringless white violin, both seeming to yearn to produce music, their surfaces marked with oscillating forms reminiscent of sound waves. In the centre of the room, a solitary desk waits for visitors to sit and create compositions on printed pentagrams, inviting us to share our own musical arrangements, and meet the silent aspirations of Cinto’s glimmering blues.

Sandra Cinto’s ‘Melody to the Stars’ is on view at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York until May 7

Main image: Sandra Cinto, Vôo VIII (Flight VIII), 2022, acrylic on canvas, 1.7 × 2.2 m. Courtesy: the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York / Los Angeles

Rebecca Rose Cuomo is an independent curator and writer based in Brooklyn, USA.