Artist: Eduardo Santiere
Today, most of us are quite comfortable with Google maps, and the ease with which we are able to shrink our search from a continental scope all the way down to a street view in a matter of seconds. The enhanced clarity that comes with each click of the mouse leads us to greater detail and ultimately to something we can easily relate to. In a similar way, one can easily become sucked into a drawing by Eduardo Santiere, graduating from an appreciation of the work as a cosmos on paper to getting lost in the most minute mark. The difference is that the map search takes us on a linear journey from macro to micro, whereas Santiere offers up every layer simultaneously, an entire world where neurons and Neptune are treated as equals.
Biologically, our brains are not wired for a non-hierarchical understanding of our world, either real or imagined, and we can’t help but impose some organization, even subconsciously. The smallest detail in any given quadrant of one of Santiere’s works—each blot, elliptical form, scratch or puncture— is arguably as significant as any other, or even as important as the piece in entirety. So while we may be programmed to organize these disparate parts into a global whole, something about his unique treatment of the forms forces us to look and perceive each part in a multi-textural way.
Santiere claims that he finds truth and beauty through the process of drawing. Without going from pre-conceived images, but rather allowing imperceptible traces and a kind of automatic marking process to guide him, he comes to a composition that vibrates with life. Once he turns these works out into the world, each of us digests that energy in a different way. The elements of his drawing have been likened to cells, computer circuitry, musical notation, outer space, utopian urban plans and dreamscapes, to name only a few. One thing each of these interpretations has in common, however, is growth or movement.
Santiere’s largest work to date, titled Inter-Space is unique in that he sticks to graphite solely, removing the color that is an integral part of much of his work. As the name implies, we see a complex web of stipple dots and clusters that conjure galactic bodies and constellations, seen in reverse negative. The individual dots seem to be magnetically drawn together at certain spots, perhaps slave to a pattern or rhythm of some unknown origin. It is somehow both violent and balletic, with markings that look to be the result of forceful contact with the paper, yet when viewed as a group seem to float and dance across the page.
In another series in the exhibition, titled Symphonies, we have a fairly encyclopedic sampling of Santiere’s gestural vocabulary. In particular, his “scratching”, as he calls it, is the result of his careful manipulation of the paper’s surface. This treatment creates a kind of relief that is similar to the burr created in the dry-point etching technique. The use of graphite and colored pencils adds yet another layer. In music, the term simultaneity is used to describe musical texture that occurs at the same time instead of in succession. In this musically-inspired series, it seems Santiere has visualized this construct.
Santiere’s incredible ability to render life and energy, both as whole forms and as individual stimuli, offers us a rare opportunity to experience art in a rich, textured way. Whether we are imagining our universe or an imaginary microscopic universe that exists on a speck of dust within our planet, experiencing simultaneity in art.
Ginger Gregg Duggan and Judith Hoos Fox, curators