Antonio Santin (b. 1978 in Madrid, lives and works in Madrid, Spain) is known for his hyper-realistic, dramatic paintings depicting skillfully executed ornamental tapestries. Santin’s paintings including his earlier, large series of portraits seem to be the results of the forces of light and dark, of the visible and the hidden. Similar to the techniques of tenebrism and chiaroscuro that the master painters such as Caravaggio and da Vinci introduced to European painting in the 15th and 16th century, Santin is able to depict dramatic scenarios, not only of human expression but even of textile folds the latter with a humorous lightness.
Deeply rooted in the tradition of Spanish Tenebrism as well as his own training as a sculptor, Santin juxtaposes flattened planes with tangible forms carved by light and shadow to create a continuous perceptual dialogue in each work. The rug series evolved from his ongoing interest in the opacity of fabric as a device to obscure with abstract patterns and textures. Each of these works brings the background into the foreground while a discernible shape hovers beneath the surface. Alluding to concealed anthropomorphic forms, their sculptural qualities make one question whether his fabricated reality is more real than your own. Much like the Gobelins Manufactory was to luxurious Renaissance tapestries, Santin’s approach to his signature trompe l’oeil paintings focus on arresting intricate details and surface textures. Inspired by the unique fusion of Josef Albers sharp and boldly colored squares with the fuzzy, blurred palette of Mark Rothko, Santin subverts the experience of flat color field paintings by ‘crumpling’ the very view.
Santin’s arresting and highly tactile works with its uncannily realistic application of shadow and highlight tempt the viewer to reach out and run their hand over the rug’s pile, which is after all a two-dimensional painting on the canvas mounted on the wall.