Celebrated stone sculptor John Suazo credits his late “Uncle Ralph” with inspiring his own career. Ralph Suazo carved the creatures he saw around his Taos Pueblo home in different kinds of wood. Using only a knife, he developed an abstract, modern look that also maintained the essence of the subjects.
This beautifully finished wood figure has an almost Asian aura. It also evokes the abstracted, beautifully sinuous paintings of Modigliani, R.C. Gorman and Amado Peña.
It is the minimal, but telling details that create the powerful stillness of this figure. Wrapped in a blanket against the cold, the graceful sweep of the folds, and the suggestion of the arm beneath it, are all the artist needed to present a full realization of the figure’s body.
The face is carved in a minimalist style, as well, but reveals more natural features: eyes, cheekbones, mouth are clearly delineated, although simplified.
It is the hair that receives the most naturalistic treatment, and the most detail. In the front, the hair is clearly seen to be thick, and separate from the face.
In the back, the full chongo, or bun, is shown. The cloth tie that holds it together is carved in the greatest detail of any element in this beautiful figure.
Mr. Suazo finished the wood beautifully, using the swirling grain patterns of the wood as part of the design. They are the only decoration the figure needs. The alabaster base provides a secure footing and a gentle contrast to the wood.
This is one of the items that emerged from hibernation when we moved a few years ago; one of the only pieces left by this notable sculptor who has long been deceased.