Hiding Under and Over – Antonio Santin

By On September 13, 2013 In Editor's picks, Editorial Submissions

Look at Macarena.  She is beautiful.  She’s this dark-haired woman standing, maybe lying, on an ornate iron spiral staircase.  Her hand is open, inviting yet austere.  Her dress, polka dots that contrast with floral background pattern, spirals along with the staircase.

© Antonio Santin. MACARENA 90x59 inch. Oil on canvas.

Look at BÜSING. Here’s another dark-haired woman lying down in a bathtub. Her off-white satin dress bounces off from the white ceramic background.  Antonio Santin is a painter with the ability to pay meticulous details on texture, pattern and color.  The colors of women’s dresses are similar to those of their backgrounds, which gives the pieces uniformity.  Yet the conflicting textures of their clothes and the backgrounds create dynamic mobility that is absent in their postures.

© Antonio Santin. BÜSING 94x53 inch. Oil on canvas.

Santin’s paintings make me roll my eyes and wonder, ‘Am I looking at paintings or photographs?’  The abstraction of realism comes through image processing software, which is one of the gradual distortions that Santin subjects his models to, according to an interview with Hi-Fructose.

“Painting is essentially a superficial activity.  The artist’s psychology translates into a certain colored texture that will in turn eventually trigger or host the unique psychology of the beholder,” Santin said, adding that, “These compositions are still lives. Inanimation characterizes the painting but it is the beholder who gives or takes breath away.”

I agree with him.  The artist’s psychology translates into the works, but is not necessarily visible in the works.  Likewise, there is no right or wrong, or easy or hard, interpretations of art.  There is no reason why talking about art should be harder than talking about a Youtube clip of fuzzy little kittens.

© Antonio Santin. FALL 300x200 cm. Oil on canvas. Private collection. Paris.

This particular philosophy of his attracted me to write this because this is how I see feminism.  Of course, feminism is a loaded word and its meanings have changed over decades.  In the Ground magazine, I feature works of artists whose subject matter evolves around the general spirit of feminism or, simply, women.  My definition of general spirit of feminism isn’t man-haters or female supremacy advocates.  I mean it in its most natural form: motherly, elegant and loving.  And Santin’s paintings of women are the perfect examples.  They are beautiful and elegant, yet seem to have some dark emotions (I want to say distance, lack of empathy and feeling of being trapped) hiding under them.

This abstraction of realism becomes more cognizant in the Oriental carpet paintings.  The contours of the things or people under the carpets might make some squirm, but others curious.  These highly elaborate and colorful carpets were originally created for Santin’s love of textures and weaves in the women’s dresses.  With a hint of black humor, these paintings make the audience wonder what is under the carpet.  We don’t know what or who is hiding under the carpet, just as though we aren’t 100 percent sure what emotions the women are hiding under their beautiful faces.

As Santin said in the interview, “Whether it is a face, a dress or a rug, for me, it’s all about grasping what is hidden or concealed.”

© Antonio Santin. SAN MARTIN 71x114 inch. Oil on canvas.

© Antonio Santin. WE ROT 370x220 cm. Oil on canvas. Private collection. New York.


Santin’s works are currently on exhibit at Marc Staus Gallery through September 29, 2013.

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