1974 Born in Fortaleza, Brazil.
1995 -1996 Foundation Course,
Saint Martin's College of Art and Design, London, UK.
1997-99 Fashion Design, Illustration and Textiles, Instituto Europeo de Design, Madrid, Spain.
2000-2007 Operation of design firm Santos& Mowen in London, UK.
2006 Commenced photography expeditions in Marrakech, North Africa.
2007-2009 Relocated to Ibiza, continued photographic work and research.
2009 Relocated to Sydney, opening a gallery (interiors, art and 20th Century) with Jason Mowen in 2010. Artwork shown rotating exhibit at this venue.
2010-2014 Work acquired by private collectors in Sydney, New York, Los Angeles, Kuala Lumpur, London, Berlin, Miamand Madrid.
2010- 2014 Completion of a major collaboration with Berlin-based artist Zed Taylor. Collaboration with Australian Fashion designer Gary Bigeni.
2015 First solo exhibition at The Other Art Fair, Central Park, Sydney.
2015-2017 OTOMYS Australia and UK. Wheel of Light since (2012), Beyond Land since (2011)
The Horizon since(2010) Photography series.
2016 NKN pop-up gallery group show, Melbourne.
2016- Affordable Art Fair Singapore - OTOMYS - Wheel of Light series.
2016- Completion of large-scale (3.6 x 2.0m) commission for William Smart, architect.
2016 The Other Art Fair 27-30 October 2016, at COMMUNE | Sydney.
2017 Spring Art Fair Sydney - NKN Gallery.
2017 Otomys, Modern Ancient Lands - group show.
2018 NKN Gallery "Memories of Colours" solo show.
2019 Blockprojects Gallery "Lucena" solo show.
2019 Otomys, Spring Salon - Lucena Tambe BW photograph - group show.
The Sediment of Memory
by Eduardo Santos
Eduardo Santos works with gravity the way other artists work with oils or ink. Gravity guides the line and pins down his disparate materials of sand, earth, paint, and varnish. Each layer accretes like sediment. The dense dry texture of sand and the lumpen rivulets formed by earth mixed with paint generate a haptic experience something like standing inside a river cave or being pinned beneath the glassy swell of a wave.
Santos credits his relationship to visceral, highly textural-materials to a childhood spent in the north of Brazil, in a terrain “where the river meets the ocean” and experiences with his grandfather, an indigenous Amazonian potter, Santos would mimic in the clay of the rive's edge. The humility of simple materials; a conflation of the natural and the ‘found’; the tactility of hand-made and rough-hewn things and, ultimately, primal landscapes, all play a role in the artist’s work. This series is also imbued with a strong sense of place. This is not painting about painting, but an invocation of earth, sky, and water influenced by desert journeys in Morocco, South America, and the Antipodes. This new work marks a radical departure from a body of extremely minimal photographic work.
“I have been painting for over two decades. The work was always parallel with other creative practice. Be it a self-imposed apprenticeship or simply a trait of secrecy, the painting has taken the longest of all to release, or consider complete.”
Santos does not underpin his works with a literal or historic narrative. The paintings allude to landscape in a manner that is more palpable than literal. A single work might contain several possible horizon lines and shifting diagonals so that anchoring our place is at times difficult. The palette of cold metallic and mineral blues and greys and earth tones seems deeply aquatic and terrestrial at the same time.
This is not landscape as scene but nature as elemental drama. This is not abstraction as diffusion but full-frontal encounter, and also, in contrast, there is a sense of Repose the dwells in the tonality and metallic frost of his palette. The contemplation is also there: namely in the span of time involved in the artist’s labor-intensive process and in the many layers that constitute each work. These are paintings of tremendous presence and they are visually demanding. It is not quiet work. But the generosity and pent-up energy of every marking serve their own rewards.
The Parallel Universe
An interview with Eduardo Santos
There is strong fluidity between mediums in your work. Are you painting with photography? Or is the whole idea of a single medium irrelevant to you?
I am a painter and photographer. A single medium is relevant, as seen in my photography, but I love the various forms of mixed media as there are infinite ways to say an infinite number of things. I use photography, I use digital manipulation, I paint and I collaborate with other artists.
Is there an over -riding emotional 'temperature' in your work. Do you feel the
photographic images have a mood and if so what is it?
Introspective? Fleeting? Private?
My work is definitely introspective, often private, but not fleeting... although there is definitely the ‘fleeting’ aspect to the Beyond Land Series photography. Sometimes I just feel like escaping and I hunt for the hidden dimension.. making the invisible visible, revealing the mystery. This is why the abstract appeals to me. At other times it’s creating order, particularly in my photography, from disorder, probably a reflection of my own life and existence, living in foreign countries since I was 18.
What inspires the graphically dense circular work that features many strips of colour made up of different images?
I think there’s an element of the fractal to my Wheel of Light Series, something optical, something about the spectrum of colours, and then there’s the fact that it’s made up of many landscape shots. I’m still working out the connection. There’s a mystery there that I don’t want to solve. I think this can be said about all my work.
How rapid is your process?
My photography can go either way. I can take more than a year to perfect an image or a series, and often I have to walk away and return to it at a later date. It can depend on so many things, what’s going on around me at the time, for example. However, every now and then I achieve what I want in a moment.
Is light itself a material in your view?
Light is probably the most important material.
How much does a sense of place inform your work? Is it the change of light, the colours or a spectrum of subtle details?
I started painting and drawing as a child in Brazil, but it was when I was living in Ibiza and spending a lot of time in Marrakech that I started to think of my art more seriously. Both places inspired enormous artistry in me. A door was unlocked. There is particular light and warmth in Spain and Morocco that definitely informed my work at the time, and it was really interesting to see how this changed when I moved to Australia. The light, the atmosphere, everything is different here.. there is a unique clarity, and I think my photography particularly reflects this.
Of course there are also the infinite change in details small and large, cultural, physical, emotional, when one moves from one country to another.
What is your earliest visual memory?
My earliest visual memory is of my grandfather making pottery.. I think my mother used to drop me there when she went to work. He was a full Amazonian Indian.
Because the earth is round the horizon is essentially an illusion. What does the horizon represent to you?
It’s so magical. To me it represents the infinite, a parallel mysterious hidden world that one only can reach through dreaming. Nothing fascinates me more.
Artists I regard...
Victor Vasarely, Josef Albers, Jesus Soto, Gerhard Richter, Anselm Kiefer and Miguel Barcelo.
My Photography and art practice has developed slowly by technical experiment and intuitive process. The works I generate have a specific sense of place, time and emotion that is deliberately obscured by the format in which they are created. The landscape is real, an actual location, yet the ability to pin-point it is rendered impossible. In some ways, my visual language functions like memory. The imagined and the projected replaces the real.
I am sensitive to the mutable qualities of light. Some of my most intense visual memories begin with the light and perhaps some of my work approaches memory in this very visceral form. Light and the movement of colour through the spectrum is the way we convey energy in visual terms. I search for the energy that exists between color, texture and light, and the power this energy has to influence our perception of forms. My continual use of the horizon as a subject is not purely formal. It’s not just a device to divide the composition. It is a magnetic field that draws us forward. It is the dividing line between the past and the present and it is also the line that melts and alters during dawn and dusk.
Ostensibly my work is minimal, abstract, somewhat graphic, yet all of it has a basis in the natural world. Close observation of physical events caused by nature - the subtle changes of seasons, a particular time of day and the formal structural elements in nature and architecture are all key factors that inform all my work. The fact that the resulting forms differ radically from their original basis is what severs me from conventional landscape traditions. I am not shooting or painting a scene. The scene is being stretched across time.
PROCESS AND MUTATION IN THE WORK
Eduardo Santos uses photography as an abstract medium. At first glance his large single image prints look like silk screens or highly polished paintings and only further investigation reveals that they are in fact photographic media. His moment for capturing an image is the exact reverse of the average lens-person in that he will seize the landscape in the split second before auto-focus clicks into place. It is in this moment that the bare rudiments of colour and shape are outlined and that light becomes a veil rather than a mirror. It is also in this moment that the landscape seems to be moving as fast as sound, scudding past, blurring with velocity. On first impression the work evokes speed, but the artist refutes this illusion:
“Many have assumed that this was my method: capturing the landscape from a moving car. But in fact my approach is more selective than that and more deliberate. The colour appears fleeting but the image is wedged firmly in one place. The conversation is in the illusion.”
For Santos, colour assumes a spectral energetic form, almost an aura, rather than an arrow to detail and the result are works that throb and pulse on the eye. For this artist the image is built in stages that are both intuitive and highly controlled: Simplicity is slippery in his hands. In two works entitled “Landscape” the bleeding almost furry texture of each image floats like a chimera. It’s what we might see straight out of sleep, the waking dream, or its something more remote and un-mapped, a nameless sandbank as if viewed through a periscope. Unfocused, the land could be ocean or the ocean could be cloud, and the cultural expectation we have of a landscape to be memorable or monumental and impressive simply blurs.
On the surface the works seem impenetrable, locked into the logic of their own geometry or almost mechanically rendered. Printed on metallic paper and sometimes highly manipulated in a meticulous process of layering, it is difficult to reconcile each image with a sense of place. And yet, this is precisely what this artist claims as his primary touch-stone: the terroire of light, especially the light in Marrakech. The earth tones, raw sky and gilded light of North Africa are what first brought him to photography. And Morocco continues to be the place where he visits and source the majority of his images. In this artists hands landscape is not location, instead it is somewhere, mutated into nowhere and in that process a potent evocation of ‘everywhere’.