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Artist Josignacio in his Miami studio.jpg
Jose Ignacio Sanchez Rius
Born (1963-10-24) 24 October 1963 (age 53)
Havana, Cuba
Nationality Cuban
Known for Abstract Expressionism, Abstract art, Painting
Notable work The 3 O'clock, Red Fish, The Virtual Key, Rhapsody Blue, Plastic Paint Medium
Movement Contemporary art "Cuban Generation of the 80's"
Awards Hortt38 Best In Show, 1st Place in EVMCC '79 and '80

Jose Ignacio Sanchez Rius, better known as Josignacio, is a contemporary Cuban artist who is associated with neo-figurative and abstract painting.

Born in Havana, Cuba, on October 24, 1963, he has resided in the USA since 1989. Josignacio is one of the artists of the controversial "La Generacion de los 80" (The 80's Generation), which includes José Bedia Valdés, Humberto Castro, Rubén Torres Llorca, and Tomás Sánchez, among others. Some of his artwork is available on display at the Laura Brunetti Art Gallery located in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida and online at artnet.

In 1984, he created the Plastic Paint Medium, a technique consisting of the use of epoxy resins as an "agglutinating medium" and "pigments" as colorants, obtaining a real plastic finish with a new visual effect.

Josignacio resides in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida.

Early life[edit]

Josignacio came from a family of intellectuals and was surrounded by a vast collection of paintings. During his youth his home looked more like a museum than a place to dwell. There had been many family friends who visited regularly. Among them were painters such as Roberto Fabelo, René Portocarrero, Amelia Peláez, Felipe López, Mariano Rodriguez "El Gallego Posada" and Gilberto Marino.

During these visits these painters taught Josignacio new methods and painting techniques. Notably, in one of Josignacio's interviews, he had been asked "when did you begin to paint?" His reply was: "I do not recall when; it had been a part of my daily life like everything else." Among his teachers his talent as a future painter was obvious, and in 1983 he went presented himself to the admissions test at the Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA). Out of the many who tested, he was one of the few to pass. Overjoyed with the news, Josignacio shaved his head, stating "new life, new hair." When he came to school to attend the Dean banned him from the premises and from attending because they interpreted his head shaving as protest against the government. One of Josignacio's teachers, Consuelo Castaneda, also had been banned from the Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA) because of having a punk hairstyle.

This turn of destiny gave Josignacio an obsession to learning all related with art, art history and to be the best in his field. After being banned, his challenge and goal was to beat ISA graduates in every sense possible.

In 1984 working as a helping hand for Martinez Anay and Andres Ugalde in the making of a big mural painting for the Military Patriotic Educational Society known as Sociedad de Educación Patriótico-Militar (SEPMI) (the Cuban version of the Boy Scouts). This agency had been directed by Cuban Cosmonaut Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez. It was during this time Josignacio accidentally discovered that mixing epoxy resin with oil paintings was an excellent medium to paint with.

This new medium took him two years to develop and master. When he was ready his Uncle Gerardo got him his first personal exhibition at the Artistic and Literary Lyceum of the city of Regla on March 2, 1987. This was the first time that a complete paintings exhibition was made with only the plastic paint medium and had been displayed worldwide.

In 1988, Josignacio as a member of the "Asociación Hermanos Saíz" was commissioned by their directives to make the design of one of the Havana Carnival's Floats.[1] As soon as he finished the design, he presented it to the commission and they canceled him arguing that they needed to give the Float design to another Cuban painter, Manuel Mendive; the reason was that in Miami one of Mendive's paintings titled "El Pavo Real" had been burned by an anti-Castro militant a member of the Bay of Pigs Brigade 2506 and at that moment was necessary to give the revolution's support to the victim artist.

Since then his artwork had been on display at more than 20 exhibitions before finally being invited to exhibit his art in Mexico City on May 10, 1989.

With no explanation being given to him, all his planned shows at The Gallery of the National Auditorium and Los Talleres de Coyoacán were cancelled by orders of the Cuban embassy in Mexico City. After this turning point, he made the decision to come to the USA on September 14, 1989 and has resided there since then. Josignacio is an American Citizen.


Since his youth Josignacio has been influenced by the abstract expressionists of the New York School; however, Karel Appel and Wassily Kandinsky have had a special focus. In his childhood Josignacio had been more motivated by color than by forms, a distinguishing factor in his artwork that was often noted among his peers and family. The only exception to his art was his self-portrait, which he did according to academic style. In his first exhibition, his entire collection of paintings were all abstracts. It was from this point of time that his future as an abstract/neo-figurative painter had been decided.

Social causes and charity work[edit]

Josignacio has contributed to social causes. Most recently Josignacio is known for raising funds for the 2010 Haiti earthquake victims. For both Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Andrew, Josignacio helped raise funds for the victims. In 1992 after Hurricane Andrew struck South Florida he organized an auction with more than 100 Cuban painters for victims of the tragedy. In the early 90's Josignacio helped raise funds for AIDS organizations such as "The Project Genesis." Since 1996 Josignacio has helped raise funds for the Miami Children's Hospital. His most recent donation was to Hedge Funds Care, an international charity, whose sole mission is preventing and treating child abuse and supported largely by the hedge fund industry.

Art in public places[edit]

On November 25, 2011, Josignacio unveiled an 8-foot x 12 foot mural titled 'Tree of Life' in Asbury Park, New Jersey at the Asbury Park Transportation on Main Street. The 'Tree of Life' was an original triptych art that consisted of three consecutive paintings that represented a convergence of the past, present and future to create an image of humanity. The 'Tree of Life', then valued at $180,000, was dedicated to the children of Asbury Park, NJ and was commissioned by The Caring Canvas, a premier traveling art gallery. The triptych mural artwork is permanently located at the Asbury Park Transportation Center on Main Street in Asbury Park, NJ.[2]

On January 13, 2017, La Casa de Artes y Tradiciones Chinas[3] acquired Josignacio's artwork titled "Fénix" a 105.5 x 55 inches, plastic paint medium on wood to be on public display at their permanent collection.

"Fénix" (Phoenix) by Josignacio


  • 1979 - Awarded first prize in painting at the Escuela Vocacional Militar Camilo Cienfuegos de Guanabacoa, Havana.
  • 1980 - Awarded first prize in painting at the Escuela Vocacional Militar Camilo Cienfuegos de Guanabacoa, Havana.
  • 1996 - Awarded the "Best in Show Prize" at Hortt 38 jury art show exhibition at the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale in Florida.
  • 2000 - Titled the "Chief Painter of lle lfe" for the best interpretation through color of the Yoruba Religion.
  • 2015 - The City of Miami officially salutes Josignacio for his achievements in the City of Miami.

Auction records & trends[edit]

On December 17, 2014, President Barack Obama announced that the U.S. would normalize relations between the U.S. and Cuba. Cuban art sales are believed to be booming as a consequence of thawing political relations between the United States and Cuba.

On December 23, 2014, a painting by Josignacio titled "The Three Wisest Monkeys", dated 1991, was sold for a hammer price of $720,000 USD at Pangeaea Auction House in Las Vegas. Notably, this painting set Josignacio as the most expensive living Cuban artist in the world by surpassing Tomas Sanchez, who previously held the record at $540,000. (Source:™ database)

On April 11, 2015, President Obama met with his Cuban counterpart, Raúl Castro, for substantive talks in Panama City, Panama. According to CNN, this was the first time "the two nations' top leaders have sat down for substantive talks in more than 50 years."

On July 20, 2015, the United States and Cuba both reopened their embassies with one another in their respective capital cities.

On December 15, 2015, a painting by Josignacio titled "The key of Success", dated 2011, was sold for a hammer price of $475,000 USD at Miami Auction Gallery in Miami, FL.

On February 16, 2016, the United States and Cuba signed an airline transportation agreement allowing commercial flights between the two countries. (Source:

On March 10, 2016, a painting by Josignacio titled "Music is Timeless", dated 1989, was sold for a hammer price of $3,481,205 USD at McCarthy-Williams Auctions in London. This painting is now the most expensive painting in the world by a living Latin artist (as well as a living Cuban artist).

On July 7, 2016, a painting by Josignacio titled "Rostro", dated 1989, was sold for a hammer price of $2,329,200 at McCarthy-Williams Auctions in London.

Year over year auction sales data for Josignacio reveals a sharply upward sales trend of artwork for the artist. Furthermore, it is expected that as the economic ties between the United States and Cuba grow, that the contemporary Cuban art will appreciate as is reflected in the upward trending auction sales of Josignacio. Accordingly, due to increasing demand it is likely that new auction records will be set in the future.


  • 1988 - "Concierto Sentido" with Cuban musician José María Vitier
  • 2006 - "La Pintura Cubana" by Art Work Productions, Director Roberto J. Cayuso.
  • 2008 - "Josignacio: Las Formas del Color" by Art Work Productions, Director Roberto J. Cayuso.
  • 2010 - "Josignacio: The Master of Colors" by Calico Productions. Director is Daniel Urdanivia.

Major works[edit]


  • 1988 - Salon de la Ciudad in Havana, Cuba.
  • 1996 - Art Palm Beach, represented by Ramiro Casanas Gallery located in Palm Beach, Florida.
  • 1996 - "Josignacio" at Domingo Padron Gallery in Coral Gables, Florida
  • 1996 - "Josignacio" at Alfredo Martinez Gallery
  • 1996 - Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale, Florida Hortt 38
  • 1997 - "Live Collages" at Risk Night Club organized by Ingrid Casares and Chris Paciello.
  • 1997 - "The Miami Clowns" at Risk Night Club organized by Ingrid Casares and Chris Paciello.
  • 1997 - "Marihuana" at Risk Night Club organized by Ingrid Casares and Chris Paciello.
  • 1997 - "Hot Sex at Your own Risk" at Risk Night Club organized by Ingrid Casares and Chris Paciello.
  • 1997 - "Liquid Sex" at Liquid Night Club organized by Ingrid Casares and Chris Paciello.
  • 1991 to 2007 - Art Miami
  • 2007 - "Collages and Things" at Mario Fine Arts Gallery in Miami, Florida.
  • 2007 - "Music for Pisces" at the Gallery of Regions Bank in Coral Gables, Florida.
  • 2009 - "Saint Michael de Archangel" at Hialeah Park RaceTrack re-opening in Hialeah, Florida.
  • 2009 - New Jersey’s Art629 Gallery[4] "Art Series’ Presents: Contemporary Cuban Artist Josignacio". A Prevention First’s charitable[5] event for the children of Asbury Park.
  • 2010 - "Josignacio: The Master of Colors" exhibition previewing the artworks appearing in the documentary of the same title at the Surf Club in Surfside, Florida.
  • 2015 - "Cuban Art Revolution" at Macaya Gallery,[6] Wynwood Art District
  • 2016 - "China and its Popular Culture"[7] at the Culture Pavilion of the Expocuba which was dedicated to celebrate the 169th anniversary of the arrival of Chinese people to Cuba. Notably, this was the first exhibition of Josignacio in Cuba after working in the USA for more than 26 years. The exhibition depicted the 12 signs of the Chinese Zodiac. Additionally, there was an interpretation of the fenghuang, a koi fish, a butterfly, and a panda bear. The opening words of the exhibition were held by the Ambassador of the People's Republic of China in Havana, Cuba, Mr. Zhang Tuo.[8]
  • 2016 - "De Douceur Á Intense" [9] An exhibition consisting of 21 paintings from Josignacio's "Dance Series" and they are a recreation of the most relevant classical ballets interpreted by the Cuban National Ballet, such as Swan Lake, Giselle, Don Quixote (ballet) and Carmen. Carmen Suite (ballet) which is a one-act ballet created in 1967 by Cuban choreographer Alberto Alonso to music by Russian composer Rodion Shchedrin. Prima ballerina assoluta and founder of The Cuban National Ballet, Alicia Alonso, personally commissioned such exhibition. The show was held at the Gran Teatro de La Habana as part of the artistic events celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the International Ballet Festival of Havana [10] in "La Sala Ernesto Lecuona"
  • 2017 - The exhibition titled "El Renacer del Ave Fénix" (The Reborn of Phoenix)[11][12][13][14][15][16] to celebrate the new Chinese year 2017 "Fire Rooster" (28 January -15 February 2018) Josignacio exhibited this cultural myth in the heart of Havana's Chinatown in Casa de las Artes y Tradiciones Chinas commissioned by its director Dr. Teresa Li. The opening words of the exhibition were held by the new Ambassador of the People's Republic of China in Havana, Cuba, Mr. Chen Xi[17] and Author and Ethnologist Dr. de:Natalia Bolívar. Also Cuban Government representatives were present at the opening.

The key artwork of the exhibition as well as the Signs Series titled "Fénix" was acquired by the Casa de las Artes y Tradiciones Chinas for display in its permanent collection.

  • 2017 - The most emblematic and iconic place in Havana is La Bodeguita del Medio founded in 1942 and in its 75th Anniversary[18][19] as part of the festivities of this commemorative event, was included an acquisition of Josignacio’s work titled “Mojito”, a semi-figurative painting depicting this traditional and typical drink to be on its permanent display.

Additional exhibitions[edit]

From 1987 to 1989 Josignacio had his artwork on display at the following Galleries for exhibition:

  • Galeria del Liceo Artistico y Literario de Regla[20]
  • Galeria San Miguel del Padron
  • Galeria de la Casa del Joven Creador[21]
  • Galeria del Palacio del Segundo Cabo[22]
  • Galeria del Karl Marx
  • Galeria del teatro Mella[23]
  • Centro de Exposiciones Pabellon Cuba[24][25]
  • Galeria de la Casa de la Cultura de Plaza[26]
  • Galeria del Comité Estatal de Finanzas
  • La Casona, Sede del Ballet Nacional de Cuba (Cuban National Ballet)
  • Galeria del Fondo Cubano de Vienes Culturales[27]
  • Galeria del Café Teatro Brecht[28]
  • Participation with Arte Calle group, 23 y 12 Vedado 1989 "Fry Eggs Still Life"
  • 1989 "Comparzas y Carnavales" La Maison[29]
  • Exhibición en el lobby del Hotel Habana Riviera "Mariposas"
  • Exhibición en el lobby del Hotel Habana Libre[30] "Abstracts"
  • Exhibición en el lobby del Hotel Internacional de Varadero[31]

Writings and essays[edit]

  • 1987 - "Josignacio" by Dr. es:Jose Antonio Portoundo[32] renowned Cuban Intellectual, Havana, Cuba
  • 1988 - "Josignacio y sus juegos de resinas" (Josignacio and his Resin Games) by Dr. Antonio Núñez Jiménez (renowned Cuban academic), Havana, Cuba
  • 1988 - "El Torbellino Cromatico en la Obra de Josignacio" (Tornados Chromatic in Josignacio's Artworks) by Lisandro Otero (Cuban novelist), Havana, Cuba
  • 1988 - "La Magia de Josignacio" (Josignacio's Magic) by Miguel Cabrera,[33] Historian of Cuban National Ballet, Havana, Cuba
  • 1989 - "Josignacio es una revolucion dentro de la revolucion" (Josignacio is a Revolution Inside the Revolution) by Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez Havana, Cuba
  • 1989 - "Los Martí de Josignacio" "The Josignacio's Martí" by Cuban Teacher and José Martí specialist Ms. Esther Montes de Oca[34]
  • 1989 - "El dibujo por el Color" by illustrator José Luis Posada Medio "El Gallego Posada"[35]
  • 1991 - "Josignacio's Newism" by art consultant and critic Roberto J Cayuso, Miami
  • 1995 - "The Flag" by Jorge Valls, Miami, Florida
  • 2008 - "Josignacio: Un Pintor Abstracto en Miami" (An Abstract Painter in Miami) by Dr. Emilio Ichikawa, a renown Cuban intellectual, Miami, Florida


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  • Las Oleadas de resina de Josignacio Culturales by Toni Piñera, Granma newspaper La Habana 4 de Marzo de 1987. Cuba
  • Josignacio Plastica by Ele Nussa. Revista Bohemia Marzo 27 de 1987. Cuba
  • Exposicion del Joven Pintor Josignacio 17 de septiembre de 1987 Trabajadores newspaper Cuba
  • Josignacio Novato del año Plastica by Ele Nussa. Revista Bohemia Septiembre 18 de 1987. Cuba
  • Josignacio esta acabando, Los Pasos de un Joven Diligente Plastica by Ele Nussa. Revista Bohemia Abril de 1988. Cuba
  • Contacto Dedicated to artist Josignacio by Hilda Rabilero, Cubavision International, Canal 6, 1987. Cuba1988
  • Concierto Sentido Dedicated to artist Josignacio and Cuban musician José María Vitier, Cubavision International, Canal 6, 1988. Cuba
  • "Revista de la Mañana" "Josignacio nos habla de su novedosa tecnica" an interview by Freddy Moros, Dedicate to Artist Josignacio. Cubavision International, Canal 6, 1988. Cuba
  • Josignacio Creador de una novedosa tecnica pictorica by Dinorah del Real "Panorama" Cubavision International, Canal 6, 1988. Cuba
  • Josignacio Nuestro Orgullo by Esteban Lamelas, Univision Channel 23, 1996
  • Helen Cohen, Two Events Offer Chance to Buy artworks, Fight AIDS Auction, Miami, Florida, The Miami Herald newspaper, April 20, 1990
  • Alvarez-Bravo, Armando, De Ronda, Miami, Florida, El Nuevo Herald newspaper, September 4, 1996.
  • Alvarez-Bravo, Armando, Josignacio, Miami, Florida, El Nuevo Herald newspaper, July 20, 1996.
  • Into the Night by Liz Martinez. Miami New Times, May 15, 1997
  • Cover Illustration for the book Oduduwa Un Secreto de Ifa. by Claudia Mola Fernandez ISBN 978-0-9672988-0-1. 1999
  • Ichikawa, Emilio, Josignacio: un pintor abstracto en Miami, Miami, Florida, El Nuevo Herald newspaper, August 11, 2008.

External links[edit]