Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

Eduardo Santiere: Draw In

Haim Chanin Fine Arts
121 West 19th Street
New York City
646 230 7200

February 22 – April 26, 2008

Eduardo Santiere Bio-construction 5 2008, color pencil, graphite and scratching on paper, 14 x 11-1/4 inches. Courtesy Haim Chanin Fine Arts
Eduardo Santiere, Bio-construction 5 2008, color pencil, graphite and scratching on paper, 14 x 11-1/4 inches. Courtesy Haim Chanin Fine Arts

“Draw In,” the first solo show in New York of Argentine artist Eduardo Santiere, comprised approximately twenty works on paper. Although he lives in Buenos Aires, Santierre is familiar with the American art world—he received his MFA in 2003 from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and last year, he participated in a selection of artists at the Drawing Center in New York. His drawings incorporate pencil, colored pencil, and surface scratches, which give the pieces their sense of immediacy and networks of colorful densities. He makes use of a delicate, intricate idiom, in which knobs and knots of color hover in the paper’s empty space. Much of the imagery seems star-struck; viewers have the feeling that they are looking at a kind of intimate astronomy, in which planets and galaxies move about as they build centers of energy. Scratches on the paper add the slightest sense of relief, giving the picture its hard-to-recognize yet palpable sense of depth. Despite the fact that Santiere’s world seems to be cosmic, it is also personal and private; meaning is established indirectly—it is as if the drawings were whispering to his audience, even if from an overwhelming distance.

The drawings are not so much formal as they are inspired. One senses that Santiere’s highly particular visual language stands as the theme connecting one work with the next; however, the works’ idiosyncrasies result in a highly contemporary pastiche of allusions. In some of the pieces, the artist’s audience feels as though they were confronted with a spacelike imagery that relates to celestial objects, their motions, positions, and sizes. In others, viewers may see a map of urban hubs, futuristically referred to as small, round masses of color, whose relatedness seems both random and schemed. Still other references might include a nod toward the microscopic, as if the nodes of color were cells or viruses. There is no central organizing principle, but this is what gives Santierre’s works their random, postmodern effect. The gaps of space, as well as the intricate effects, remain central to Santiere’s art.

detail of the image above
detail of the image above

The meaning of the works, both individually and in groups, seems to grow over time. Otro fragmento del futuro (2007) has small globules of color—blue, green, and yellow—that connect and disperse in equal amounts, sometimes rubbing up against each other, sometimes fleeing contact. Perhaps the artist is referring to a map of planets we have not yet discovered; there is a buoyancy to the graphite lines and points of color that suggests a subtle euphoria on the part of the artist. It must be said that the interpretations being made here read Santiere’s wholly abstract systems as possessing intentionality, which may force limitations upon a vocabulary intended to run free of specific explanation. But part of the pleasure associated with Otro fragmento del Futuro and other drawings is seeing what kind of sense may be extracted from their stylistic extravagance.

In Bio-construction 5 (2008), the overall pattern might resemble a work by Cy Twombly, but while Santiere scribbles, he also builds up nests of forms. Here the individual components of his knots have an exterior that is a bit like woven cloth; the patterns of line criss-cross in beautiful detail. They are organic in shape and build up pockets of meaning, in which the content may be looked at over time. Given the intensity of their aspect, Santiero’s drawings compel the involvement of the viewer, who both accepts and attempts to make sense of their value as they are. Part of the pleasure of experiencing his art stems from allowing the imagery to float alone in its constructions. The orientation for Boom (2007) is vertical; the pattern of marks, seen from a distance, suggests constellations of stars. Detail reveals conglomerates of forms, which give the composition its scattered density. Perhaps we are watching a galactic explosion; although the piece is relatively small (30 1/8 by 22 1/4 inches), its implications are cosmic. Thus Santiere builds grand visions from bits and pieces of color, which communicate his view of the sublime.