By WM January 29, 2024
From the press release:
MARC STRAUS is pleased to present a series of new paintings by Antonio Santín in his sixth one-person exhibition with the gallery.
In Slowness, Milan Kundera contrasts the lightning speed of contemporary life with the slowness of the eighteenth century. Different novels lend themselves to being read at different speeds, as does the viewing time for works of art. The parallel between Kundera’s Slowness and Santín’s Echo Chamber, Poligamia, and Supernova, among other paintings in the exhibition, are compelling in that collectively, in pattern and motifs, tell their own story, whether on ethnicity through shared culture, geography, or botanical reference. Slowness is impactful; a small thoughtful volume, a surprisingly slow read. Santín’s paintings are labor- intensive and can take up to nine months to produce.
With actual rugs and imagery, Santín’s initial phase is the research and maneuvering of source material: the study of textile and how it deforms when it hides an undefined volume. A low-tech approach to image rendering on a primed surface follows. Then comes the application of paint, changing and blending the oil, changing the pressure in the compressor machine–as every oil has a different density–, drying, layering, revealing, hiding, and repeating. The process ends with the application of chromatic shadows to complete the painting. A work of precision and innovation, leaving little room for unexpected outcomes.
Much like robotic surgery, his innovative machines allow for fine control and placement of paint while Santín remains in command. The resulting paintings technically, and conceptually, are well-calibrated, intentional, and forward-thinking. With little of the source material remaining, they petition for and are rewarded with extended observation time by the viewer, in support of the premise that it’s not just the slowness of creating that reward, but also that of looking, evident in Elastic Somnambullism, where with its pictographic floral reference, one gets lost in the surface details. The small canvases, some likened to single-color paintings, and others multi-toned, are two distinct series. One is a floral archetype, with a limited multi-toned pallet, the other, an organic vibration of monochromatic broken lines, a tribute to Agnes Martin and Robert Ryman. They are not studies for the larger works but rather highlight the technique through a restrictive palette and narrative.
As Santín looks toward the future he endeavors to raise the level of complexity, coloration, and design. In the novel, Kundera’s central character asks, “Why has the pleasure of slowness disappeared?” When we contextualize the process and viewing experience of Santín’s work in an imagined future, the pleasure of slowness begins to emerge. As he pushes boundaries with a technique uniquely his, one can only experience Santín’s paintings slowly.
Antonio Santín was born in 1978 in Madrid, Spain. He earned his Fine Arts degree from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid; and studied at the Athens School of Fine Arts, Athens, Greece. Santín is currently exhibiting Monomanias at the Sharjah Art Museum in his second one-person exhibition at the institution. The installation comprises a series of 12 small-format paintings, titled for their muted palette. Additional Museum exhibitions include the Knoxville Museum of Art, Tennessee; the Nassau County Museum of Art, Roslyn, NY; Hudson Valley Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; the Ithra Museum, Saudi Arabia; the Farjam Foundation, Dubai, UAE; Kunstraum Bethanien, Berlin, Germany; the Georg Kolbe Museum, Berlin, Germany. His work is held in numerous museums and private collections internationally.