María Santí‘s art focuses on the fusion between different representations of nature and on exploring an instictive «sixth sense», a quality which she considers Purity and Beauty in the natural world steam from.
Your work has been mainly focused on the natural world. You seem to be on a permanent quest for some essential primeval qualities inherent to life itself, such as purity and instinct. How is it that you got interested in that topic and came to explore it?
I´ve always lived in a village, surronded by nature. My practice emerge from my personal experiences, my perception of nature and my lifestyle.
My works are constructed out of the deep emotions that I feel when I am in nature.
I am interested in the fusion of different representations of it; exploring an instictive «sixth sense». I think this is an intrinsical quality of the natural world, which makes purity and beauty its primordial elements and which I feel closely connected to the intuitive process present in my painting.
I create a structure that interweaves the strength of the material with the visible, my personal experiences and the experiences of those whom my work challenges.
You have stated that you consider that “the matter is alive». Could you please further expand on that idea? In which way are you inspired by the aliveness of the matter and how do you integrate that in your work?
I make mine Andrei Tarkowsky´s words «The material came to life and the elements, parts of the film engaged in mutual functional relationships and to form a unified, organic precise system».
My practice is deeply rooted in matter. The materials, their qualities, their strengh, their possibilities became and built the projects themselves. Everytime I begin a new project I start off by searching and exploring materials. This is the starting point to develop the idea. With this process I show an underlying premise: that the matter is alive. This is why I consider it an active component of my practice.
In some of your works such as in El Último Día del Verano (2015/2016), you used artificial material on top of natural elements, by painting on the leaves of a plant. How would you say that the materials you use reflect on the concept behind your work?
El Último Día del Verano is part of a series of performative works in which I act on nature through a pictorial gesture. By using biodegradable material, such as goauche painting, I paint each leaf, each stem, each branch , in an attempt to activating , giving energy, with the goal that nature runs its course. During this time, I interact with the environment, experimenting with the resistance coming from both physical and emotional body; while experiencing narrative from its core, living the landscape from an intimate perspective. In turn, revaluing the gesture represented by the brushstroke, this task makes it possible to have a sensible thought about the concept of the body: from its structure and its motor skills, and a will to act. The body becomes giver of meaning to the pictorial practice. Thus, the painting is a transforming action of nature: how mutating its appearance without disturbing the identity.
In response to a current state of the landscape -modified by degrators responsible for a set of irresponsible human actions of its consequences, largely irreversibles- have sought to isolate a section of my garden to tend, care for and paint it because of its regenatory potential. If the landscape was one of the main pictorial genres in Art History, today it has become something more than simply perception of the place around us.
Would you please let us know how your artistic process usually works?
I always begin with painting. While I am painting I can think. Even if the outcome is not in a form of painting, I still need to start of with painting.
I attempt to break down and analyse the process I go through in making a painting… dealing with the anatomy of painting… so that I can continue to develop a visual language; my own language with a strong vocabulary, which will hopefully keep my painting´s voice going on for years to come.
From this point on, I am able to analize and research the ambiguity of images that emerge from my instinct. I can approach them by registering the phisical and emotional sphere. Images I had in mind -usually coming from nature – work as a guideline to manifest that energy. Furthermore, turning the workspace into a laboratory where testing new situations in relation to the drawing, the materials , the brushsrokes, within the new context. And how they challenge us about the uncertanty, the unknown and the unncany in our lives
Tell us all about the projects that you have been working on while in GlogauAir.
These works are mixed media, from painting to video, through installation and drawing.
Considering my interests, this project will be an installation , in which I will experiment with light, paint, color , bodies, materials giving priority finding out material issues, features, structures in order to expose contemporary problems, whether around us, or inherent to us.
By highlighting the gesture, the color, the movement, I link them to nature, the city context, time and it´s flow.. Playing with the boundaries of painting, attempting an expantion of its effects and through this process I reveal aspects of my practice and my investigations about body , nature and landscape.
The power of the materials, is very important in creating a dialogue between the painted image, the handmade mark and the object / support chosen.
The underlying premise of my artistic process is that matter is alive and active in the language and transformation of my practice.
Experimenting with the medium, using objects found in everyday life, in this particular case gives the work a certain simplicity and crudeness, occupying the space and accentuating the transition between the finished and unfinished.
In this series of works I question painting itself by working concepts of space (both real and pictorial) and the categories of movement, light, emptiness and placement. That together with the gesture and the footprint are necessary subjects in my practice. Painting is thinking.
The topics you focus on seem to always work on the basis of dichotomy, like man-made vs. nature, outdoors vs. indoors, public vs. private. Your art seems to be a representation of a utopia. Does this mean that you are asking the viewer consider a possible future dystopia?
No, I feel that hopefully the human being will live in peace and will take care of the world. And I am sure that contemporary art is helping to make mankind aware of this circunstance
You have referred in your artistic statement that you believe that your “art practice has the capacity to repair and take care of this world”. How do you come about doing that?
Since landscape has been modified by manmade degrading actions, with irreversible consequences, I believe that my art practice has the capacity to repair and take care of this world. Landscape has always been one of the most prominent genres, nowadays it has become something more than the perception of the place around us. In the contemporary scene, it is the undisputed protagonist which tells us that life without seas and skies, in a world without life or colour, is meaningless.
I aspire that my artwork can communicate this message to everyone. It’s our genetic imprint, it’s about being human, about being alive in the world, that I wish to dive into. My projects are about being human, and the act of creativity. They are about contemplation, they have to be sensed as well as experienced, they are physical paintings. The ‘spiritual’ response and purpose is central.
You work primarily with essential natural structures; time, forms and colors. However, the rhythm and the landscape of Berlin are mainly man-made. How did these surroundings influence you and your art practice?
When I arrived at GlogauAir in Berlin I was overwhelmed. I have never lived in a big, multicultural and cosmopolitan city, so for me. this experience is extremly intense.
While I was thinking about my project, I realized that it began to change itself. I feel very inspired by people. The multicultural enviroment, the languages, the skin colors… so I decided I had to paint this spectrum and its transition of colours just to symbolize the melting pot I found in Berlin. That was my first work.
The starting point for experimentation during the residency was the concept of transitional space; a configuration that can at the same time define and dissolve boundaries among different places. Without transitions our contemporary understanding of spatial dualities like intimate-public or inside-outside might have been impossible. By creating, connecting, overlapping and dispersing images that grow inside me and within the actual space, I let those enter into a “conversation“ with each other and with the actual environment.
I began painting on large canvases, in the back side, in an effort to explore the behaviour of the material while hanged. These paintings are a different transition from stretched canvas in order to further explore the materiality of the painted surface and the experience of painting as both image and material object. Also it plays with the usefulness and uselessness of objects that come from everyday life.
The context and landscape play an essential role in my practice. I particulary question the limits of representation, painting, the artistic process, as well as the borders between the physical, the imaginary and the represented space. My art practice focuses on the fragile borders that separate reality and fiction, presence and absence, materiality and evocation.