• Start

    25 September 2014
  • End

    28 November 2014
  • Artist

    Kim Santiago

Veiled figures fill the canvasses Kim Santiago’s new collection. They are reminiscent of highly academic strokes; they crave mastery and power over drapes and human anatomy. But apart from exhibiting a clear control over his skills, the artist draws us into his personal limbo with the suggestive sensuality he employs with his brush. Appropriately titled “Questions,” the exhibition is Santiago’s invitation to revisit an intersection familiar to us all – the moral dilemma.

What differentiates a moral dilemma from garden variety decision-making is the beholden individual’s self-awareness on his or her situation. It tags all the possible outcomes as unfavorable. The artist’s intent is to underscore the line dividing that which is considered good or moral from that which is admittedly wrong but out trumps the former in short-term gratification. His veiled figures are meant to embody the struggle of weighing decisions. Santiago questions the worth of the bigger picture, but does so without imposing a moral high ground.

There are some religious undertones that can be derived from processing Santago’s paintings. His chosen metaphor is the veil, covering naked figures that in some paintings appear to be in the process of removing it or in some appear to be inviting its removal. This arguably stands for temptation, and the sensuality of the figures themselves suggest “nakedness” (vulnerable/unprotected) as opposed to simply being “nude” (unclothed). In this light, it is highly reminiscent of the fall of man in the Book of Genesis. Adding to that reference is how the greatest bestseller of them all reminds us that knowledge of good and evil is after all, a responsibility more than just a mere privilege.

The religious undertones are largely unintentional, as far as Santiago’s artistic process is concerned. Yet the association is difficult to elude when the veil itself as an object is built within the context of the Christian faith: on one hand it symbolizes the union of man and woman through the rite of marriage, on the other it speaks of abandoning it (the phrase “to take the veil” for example, refers to the act of deciding to become a nun). So perhaps there is indeed some sort of universality in symbols and metaphors. And maybe it is within these discourses that Kim Santiago’s “Questions” present the all too familiar limbo.

— IC Jaucian