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From Formal and Sacred: the Recent Paintings of Arlene Santana

Arlene Santana's work shows a deep commitment to a strong, formal abstraction which is also strangely lyrical. The scale of her large but not enormous works, almost all on wood, gives them a physical assurance, at the same time as there is lots of detailed brushwork, giving us something to examine closely. Santana captures our attention and holds it......the paintings have a sort of hidden, sacred, written quality.....In her work are combined the cultural richness of Italy and Spain, the luscious fecundity of South Florida, and the intellectual sharpness of New York. Something very joyful and something very sorrowful can exist in the same mind at the same time, so the paintings may show something glorious and luminous and also something very dark.

Frederick Ted Castle, Critic/Author, New York

 

From Nocturnal Color

To Arlene Santana, the picture is charged with illuminating the night of consciousness, with lighting the path of man in the shadow of time, with clarifying the obscurity of history. Santana's work of recent years has been a quest to explore the intricate passages of art, to meander where a sense of mystery reigns. Her enigmatic nocturnes are at the same time a mystery and a salvation---arcane and indecipherable, they are an allusion to the divine.

The artist emerges from within the maze of signs and small gestures which compose her greater picture. With this in mind, we must look at this work, a work of many solitary meanings and references, a work unique in the panorama of art at the close of the century. Santana's approach is minimal but intense, the space varies with the change of discourse, the line is enhanced, the evocations multiplied. We recognize in the paintings of Arlene Santana an astounding world of small and great truths, of dreams just revealed, of premonitions foretold.

Alessandro Masi, Art Historian/Author, Rome

 

From The Other Side of Things

"Memorable" is an apt description of the painting of Arlene Santana. She endeavors to describe in detail the footsteps of the past or, perhaps it is better to say, the capture the signs which leave an imprint on human consciousness. The pictures are splinters of history overcome and given form by the artist's desire to narrate, reshape, and make evident existential events from personal and past history.

Fascinated by the ancient ruins and the sense of death oozing from the stones of Roman streets, the American painter observes and interprets without losing objectivity the twilight of a city. What interests her is the vigor of the fall of the world: what survives and how it overcomes destruction. This is not an interest in the material, but in the metaphysical aspect, the ability to transcend death. Catacombs, sarcophagi, and antiquities exist in work symbolically, abstractly, spiritually.

By dividing the space into many smaller pictures, the painting resembles an immense mosaic. Like the voices of a grand chorus in unison, they become the traces of collective footsteps of the human race. The fragments can be tombs, niches for ashes or scenes from bronze doors opening into an internal dimension, profound and sacred. The resemble lamps which when seen from behind a curtain, veil and unveil a mysterious light both individual and universal. The colors, brilliant and dark, reflect and pulsate with an incorruptible and vital energy. The meditations on death become metaphors and symbols of a cosmic adventure transcending human experience.

We are in the presence of an artist who overturns the premise of De Chirico, this is not only because of her preference for archeological elements over those extracted from mythology, but because of her ability to intuit the reverse side of the coin: the hidden face of things. Hence, everything is born from nothingness, the positive from the negative. As life comes from death, happiness bursts from existential pain.

Franco Campegiani, Author/Poet, Rome

 

From A Professor at Florida International University

Unlike much work today which purports to be objective-- an arrangement of forms, colors, lines in two or three dimensional space, Arlene Santana's work embodies an intense personal concern... her approach is symbolic--technically excellent work which informs through its appeal to the senses rather than by literal propaganda

Ellen Jacobs
Professor of Art, Florida International University
 


 

 

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