Having moved, in 2012, to New York City after eight years in Berlin, and with numerous exhibitions across the world under his belt, Spanish artist Antonio Santin is currently at his very best. He produces photorealistic figurative paintings, depicting either mysterious scenes with beautiful women in passive positions or luscious oriental carpets covering human-like forms. Playing gracefully with the apparent pop-culture reference of murder victims wrapped in carpets, Santin’s images combine seduction with a feeling of danger or fear, almost as if these carpets were covering our darkest secrets or deepest regrets.
For Antonio Santin, painting is a kind of language without words: for him, each work is not just an object but rather a gesture that should be ''an escape from neutrality''. To achieve this impact on the viewer, he deploys a series of artistic techniques and methods: apart from the large scale of the paintings (some are two meters wide), he creates the illusion of three-dimensional volumes through a technique of shadow-sculpting inspired by the chiaroscuro of the great masters of Spanish Golden Age painting. In addition, he has developed his own technique for creating the carpets’ rich and tactile textures which involves layering acrylic and oil on the canvas, along with what he describes as ''basket weaving'' or ''creating patterns''. And it is this technique that has now evolved into the impressive lace coverings seen in his latest work.
Santin likes to work from photographs of his models which he takes himself. He prefers taking pictures of his models in their own homes, going so far as to choose the clothes they are to be photographed in from their very own wardrobes. He then uses the photos as a starting point from which the painting evolves. The issue of contrast also plays a prominent role in his work seen between the present-day, domestic settings and the traditional techniques used between the beauty of the women portrayed and their unsettling passiveness, between the human body and its objectification and ultimately, between the beautiful facade and the mysterious unknown behind it.
Antonio Santin is being represented in New York by Marc Straus Gallery.