Nick Santoro


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Acknowledging the flatness of painting on board, Santoro's images are literally served up, with a ground plane that tilts towards us, offering new urban views. These scenes are balanced by frozen moments of social connection where objects such as a beer can or a mic stand mediate the interaction between people.

Santoro's punk aesthetic, crossing the streams between music culture and art making, merges his experiences as an artist and musician. His paintings are pulled from everyday encounters between people or snapshot views of boxy buildings framed by car-parks. By doing away with sentimental qualities of light, the artist can directly employ playful colour and edgy composition to press pause on the dynamic between people and places. Figures are half-cropped into the frame or slip off the edge of the surface, with eye contact and gesture determining the interaction.

This is echoed in the painted decorative framing which further crops a scene out of the continuum of events. The sculptural frames bring form and depth against the flatness of the picture plane. The pattern application references hi-viz warning tape used to cordon off an area. But Santoro uses this framing technique to draw a line around moments that are fleeting, to bring our attention to the space between people.

The paint style is in keeping with his subjects – loose in the application but with a contradictory attention to certain details. This gives a symbolic weight to everyday objects: a beer can, council garbage bin, a sculpture plinth, a pair of sunnies masking the eyes of a gallery patron.

Santoro's work could be placed within the naive painting tradition but this is only a partial definition. To jump grandly back to the early Italian Renaissance, we see painters like Giotto who worked between symbolism and realism. The picture plane was lifted to emphasise the symbolic relationship between individuals and objects. Colour was used to direct the eye toward the focus of the story. By "serving up" the ground plane in a similar way, Santoro is directing our attention towards the relationships between people and places, and generously offers the viewer a moment to pause on experiences that we often move through quickly. The twist is that these are not grand Renaissance narratives. Instead, we get to contemplate regular social interactions and perhaps find solace in his sympathetic depiction of these sometimes awkward but meaningful events.