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26 Sep 2010

Antonio Santín at Wilde Gallery, Berlin

Antonio Santín, Schoenleinstrasse, 2010
Oil on canvas, 240 x 180 cm

Antonio Santín: Approaching the Onion
Wilde Gallery


September 3 - October 9, 2010 Gallery hours: Wed. - Sat. 12- 6pm

Emilie Trice
+49 (0)30 258 16 258

Wilde Gallery
Chausseestrasse 7
10115 Berlin

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WILDE Gallery is pleased to announce 'Approaching the Onion,' the first solo exhibition of Spanish painter Antonio Santín with the gallery.

Antonio Santín paints scenes of existential ennui, women depicted in domestic yet surreal environments cluttered with material objects. Santín, who specialized in sculpture during his studies, carves forms out of the layers upon layers of paint that he applies, arriving at densely structured yet luminescent compositions. The subjects that Santín selects for his large-scale paintings are primarily young women, who confront the viewer with a stoic gaze, almost morose in its serenity and yet silently defiant, inquisitive and unforgiving.

Santín is a draftsman of exceptional skill. Deriving inspiration from Spanish masters such as Velázquez, Goya and Greco, Santín renders his subjects with precise detail and controlled painterly flourishes. His brushstrokes take on a three dimensional treatment, reducing the paint to graduated matter that is carved away to excavate the inner being of the subject. Santín's paintings are replete with poetic distractions: the artist's use of pattern, baroque arrangements of his interiors' décor, and his attention to the dramatic interplay of light and shadow afford his compositions an almost cinematic aesthetic. The pale radiance of his figures' complexions set against the chaos of their backgrounds achieves a theatrical quality, a scene staged by the artist.

By photographing his models in their own habitats, with carefully orchestrated lighting and props chosen from the models' possessions, Santín's source material is very much his own creation, despite being comprised of found objects belonging to his subject. The artist considers these paintings to be still lives more so than portraits and instructs his models to become 'just another object in the room.' These photo sessions are acts of intimacy, in which the artist enters the model's studio instead of the other way around. Ultimately, the interiors Santín depicts can be interpreted as both private domestic spaces and psychological landscapes.

In his articulation of the subject, the models' clothing takes on a metaphorical significance. Ornate in their abstraction, these dresses are exquisite chrysalides, cocoon-like encasings that protect the wearer during their transition from one state of being to another. As in ancient depictions of the Greek God Thanatos, Santín's references to the pupa and butterfly convey allusions to the soul and to the psyches of his subjects. Their facial expressions, at once placid yet bellicose, seductive yet indifferent, signify the duality of eros and thanatos.

By rendering these isolated figures, as vulnerable as they are provocative, Santín's paintings embody Jean Paul Sartre's existential statement that 'God is the solitude of man.'

Antonio Santín was born in Madrid, Spain in 1978. He has exhibited internationally and is represented in the collection of the French Ministry of Culture, among numerous private collections worldwide. He was an artist in residence at Kunstlerhaus Glogauer in Berlin, as well as at Centre dárt Contemporani Piramidon in Barcelona. The artist currently lives and works in Berlin.