MARC STRAUS is pleased to present our second one person exhibition of Antonio Santin’s paintings, on view from September 8 until September 29, 2013. There are two connected themes in this new body of paintings: women in lavish settings and highly stylized Eastern rugs. These paintings evolve from striking pictorial motifs. Initially they seem photo-realistic but closer inspection reveals they are lush and highly painterly. Certain passages venture into abstraction, in a manner similar to Chuck Close’s portraits. In Macarena, a dark haired woman wraps her body around an elegant iron spiral staircase, resting one arm on a stair and leaving the other dangling through the banister. Her head is tilted down but her gaze is directed up at the viewer. Meanwhile her body ascending the stairs appears to be levitating. Light arrives from different sources, shedding a luscious glow on her pale, untarnished skin. The steep and ornate stairs correspond to the pattern of the dress, and yet its bright red polka dots create a playful break from the mysterious and somber work.
Up close, Santin’s surfaces are a stunning highly sculptured layering of oil and acrylic paint. Threads of color stream across, giving breath to the floating figure. Soft facial features and unblemished complexions are reminiscent of 15th century sfumato. Moreover, Santin echoes the breadth of Spanish Golden Age painting, especially the chiaroscuro found in El Greco’s, Luis de Morales’s and Velázquez’s work. Santin’s paintings are immediately contemporary and yet draw heavily from historical sources.
Unfolding in his works are pertinent issues about beauty and domesticity, about empathy and distancing. In his rugs, Santin weaves together marvelous Oriental designs, hinting at early Muslim and Mozarab arabesques found in medieval southern Spain. This important Islamic lineage in Spanish culture is evident in the grainy textural fabrics.
Born in 1978 in Madrid, Santin completed his MFA at Universidad Complutense de Madrid and Athens Fine Art School. He recently moved to New York after an eight-year stay in Berlin. His work has been exhibited in international museums, including the Kunstraum Bethanien, Berlin, Kunsterhaus Glogauer, Berlin, and the Centre dárt Contemporani Piramidon, Barcelona and can be found in numerous international collections.