Sunday, November 27, 2005

Enrique Santana

All the time I was visiting this show at the Cultural Center,
a woman sat on a bench and stared into the spacious
depths of this painting --
and who could blame her ? These are captivating,
sun-drenched, shadow-cast cityscapes -- like
Caneletto painting Venice (but without any people
-- and with big-box architecture instead of late-Gothic)

Plain but mysterious, so sharp, clear, and sunny
-- like so many Saturday afternoons that I've spent
around downtown Chicago -- even depicting the elevated
train station where I wait when visiting the gallery
district. Most cityscapes look for the charming/quaint
-- or the dreary/wasteland-ugly -- but these look for power and beauty.

And he also paints seascape (or lake-scapes) of adjacent Lake Michigan -- and
again -- no people --- no boats -- just sky and mostly waves -- going from foreground to background -- and inviting complete immersion.


Anonymous Sarah said...

Don't you just love the one with that nifty light shape on the Civic Opera House?

April 30, 2006  
Blogger chris miller said...

I think I just saw that one again -- this time at Art Chicago -- and I wasn't happy with it. The tone of that light shape you mentioned was so bright -- it jumped clear off the building. But overall -- I'm very glad this painter is celebrating my city.

May 01, 2006  
Anonymous marly said...

These are lovely, Chris. What strikes me is that Santana paints the city as though it were a natural landscape of canyons and shadow, with love for the play of light and depth. There’s no anti-urban angst at all. I hopped around on Google Images and looked at some of his others, waterscapes and urban scenes: lots of mysterious reflections in windows and buildings, often creating an optical illusion so that there are two competing ways to see the picture. I was surprised by the deep greeny brilliance of the Cape Vincent paintings...

It’s strange; not making use of people seems often to give a surreal quality to an artist’s work. (I was thinking about that in terms of my friend Vicki’s paintings—her landscapes look as though the world had been tamed by humans who have mysteriously abandoned the planet, though the countryside is not overgrown, and the sun goes on adoring the ground and making grand gestures.) That excision of the human figure lends a strange aura to a lot of the Santana pictures, as if an empty world is on the brink of revelation.

Another interesting outing...

November 26, 2006  
Blogger chris miller said...

There's not many who paint the urban canyons as places of beauty -- was
Charles Sheeler the first ?

Santana produces that quality of stillness that's so enchanting -- and is the kind of painter that the Art Institute should be putting into its new contemporary art wing -- but, oops, I starting to rant again.

November 26, 2006  

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