27.7.17

Ricky Ambagan: Pulling the String to a Full Stop

JAY BAUTISTA|

I'm Coming Home

The increasing pressure to phase out our beloved jeepneys from the main thoroughfares of Manila (and Baguio) where they once ruled is surmounting by the day. The government says they don’t even physically fit any more—an unpleasant sight--a stumbling block to progress; that their sheer volume has become a liability even as commuters cramp them up every early morning filling up their maximum sitting capacity.



This is where visual artist Ricky Ambagan pulls the string to a full stop. Paying homage to the Patok, a parlance for the last of the rogue jeepneys, Ambagan has kept the faith for these most enduring Pinoy icons. Patok is a sub-species of jeepneys plying from Montalban or Cogeo via Marcos Hi-way. Bigger than the usual 16-seater capacity, they have been built for one sole reason for being--speed; most are candy-colored and heavily decorated using airbrush. 


Basang Basa sa Ulan



With young and restless drivers at the helm, Patok travels you in hasty, topsy-turvy-style, often arriving at your destination in record time. They take you to Montalban—like in a drag race--in the shortest time possible–even that claim is an understatement. They too are notoriously loud for their music.



Patok:Ang Pagbabalik ng Langgam is an ode--a narration of the travesties and intricacies of the last days of the jeepney. A roving telenovela--as Ambagan likes to call it--because we are a reflection of the kind of transportation we get into.


Other jeepneys today are barer for its practicality but the Patok are praised both for their functionality and aesthetics. What was once a war surplus and replacement for jitneys (thus the name) became a rolling showcase of our folk artistry. The jeepney became an extension of a driver’s humble abode: how he extends an altar in his dashboard complete with vigil bulbs; how he adorns its ceiling with copied paintings from masters, alongside names of his loved ones; how he uses curtains to ward of dust and keep ventilation for a smooth and safe trip.


Ambagan does not capture all their dirt and grime but seats in front as a hopeless sentimentalist, tempering that in-your-face rap music with jingly-jangly chords, even acoustics of the heart. In I’m Coming Home he sets the mood how the ever-dependable jeepney will always be there by remaining available 24/7. No matter how late —the graveyard shifters, the overworking employees, clandestine lovers unaware of their stolen moments, the sordid drunk coming from revelry—all depend on the jeepney to get safely home. Composing the picture Ambagan shows how lonely the crusade and uphill battle they now face. Yet the stars are out in full support for their cause.    

Basang basa sa Ulan implies in you an uncomfortable situation and captures another practicality of the Patok--how it is to survive without being drenched in the rain. Ambagan’s brilliance gears up when he juxtaposes his subjects along with the title of the most popular Aegis song. He resembles it how it is being soaked—both in our bodies and feelings—from the July showers evokes discomfort yet nostalgia; how art and music blend well in a painting. Ambagan has been there, done that.

Come Together
Come Together reprises that inviting Beatles song with the pedestrian as trigger word linking the famous fab four crossing through Abbey Road. Notice Ambagan suits his images with whatever his idea he had in mind. No photos as reference but imagination and how emotions play when that song was first played. Reminds one of the good times, as we flash back reminding the soundtrack of our lives.

The Jeep of Medusa
They may not be as comfortable as it was then but a Patok experience is on the extreme in riding dangerously, so to speak. Ambagan observes how these accents and accessorizes daily living. Each Patok jeepney is a wandering statement, its character emits from the graffiti’s they espouse, as well as the sentimentality of the music it pipes in. Ambagan laments that the day would come they will just end up in glass cases enclosed in a cold museum for viewing purposes only.

The Jeep of Medusa is an astoundingly haunting sepia, pencil, and charcoal on canvas. Against the colorful palette is this centerpiece discussing the plight of the jeepney. Opposed to the desperate survivors of the shipwreck as Louis Andre Theodore Gericault depicted his masterpiece, Ambagan took off with liberation and breaking free from human frailty and futility.

Folk religiosity has been a recurring subject for Amabagan. Lord Patawad remains a subliminal in its message. He has committed to his creative passion but more faithful to his God. Finding Pepe reflects Ambagan’s nationalist fervor. Here he situates Jose Rizal as a lowly passenger among the throng, busily absorbed in reading today’s news. Affected by the goings on with our current state of affairs. Ambagan hints we may be giving up our values for less mundane and superficial things.    

Finding Pepe
The subtitle Ang Pagbabalik ng Langgam reminisces Ambagan’s previous exhibitions which featured multiple of people en mass be it in Manila, downtown Baguio or flooded Malabon. His style of distortion, marked up by raw and coarse brushstrokes, endeared in humor and memory are the hallmark of his visual style. How he angles his canvases, twisting and twirling his subjects convoluting the kind of complex quagmire they are into. Not veering desperation rather he counters perspectives that would find meaning to whatever longing that may come along their way. His colors burst with bravura often engaging even provoking the viewer as a call to action and not passively observe.

Filipino artist worth his salt had a take on the jeepney. Vicente Manansala focused on its aesthetics as a folk art; Cesar Legaspi probed on its definite lines and earth-toned hues; Mauro Malang’s jeepneys appealed like general postcards to the tourists; Manny Garibay focused on their interior jeepneys being a socialist stage, the happenings inside while in transit. Ambagan is anecdotal highlighting the stories behind his paintings that make you stare long and hard, whether you empathize, amused or baffled at the drama behind it. How scenes elicit a smirk is what inspired him to feature this. Ambagan nonchalantly contributes to the contending dynamics of our culture and a deeper encouragement that the Pinoy will survive whatever that comes his way. 
Lord Patawad

With the clock ticking, though jeepneys may still be the preferred informal mode of transportation of the general publics, however like terminally-ill cancer patients, they are now living on borrowed time.

In Patok Ambagan honors the jeepney one last time while it is still breathing, fighting for its life. He parallels the existence of the jeep with the timeline of our country—too crowded, rowdy--with every passenger has a preferred direction to take. Everything that is happening in us—be it political, entertaining or poverty reflected--revolves around the goings-on of the jeepney, as one takes a collective ride. In the end, Ambagan is just an artist who commutes.

17.7.17

John Paul Antido: The Paint is in Our Stars

BY JAY BAUTISTA |


Memory, mystic and melancholy persist in the recent paintings of John Paul Antido. A certain lightness of being permeates these characteristics such as that they evolve in the realm of his fertile imagination. In so doing Antido’s conducive characters never touch the ground, close to hypnotic one gaze long and hard at them. And the fleeting feeling never goes away haunting us long after viewing the exhibition. 
Sa Kalawakan, Irog ay Humayo creeps in some more. Like a cool breeze dwelling deeper into the night something magical happens proving to be a more suitable ambience. Antido belongs to the old school bringing back storytelling in painting. Like in a trance, everything floats as Antido enchants us back to the ground with humble realities done in his folklore-like narrative as if his collective works is one long tale to be told side by side.


Such as in Bihag ng Gabi, one could almost levitate with the woman quietly ascending to the heavens as darkness prevails. A kind of escape, with alienation marked on her face, she is unconsciously slipping to a faraway reality. Her stoic composure may not reflect her sensibilities but they mirror her longing enlightenment with poetical allusions.

Antido’s calm and balanced spatial harmony is illuminated with insights of the human condition. The blatant irony as the world progress, the more we are connected by technology, the farther the distance we are separated by hatred and greed for one another. Kanya Kanyang Kamunduhan is a masterpiece done in three parts manifesting this concern for one’s ambition

and individuality created by a person’s needs and aspirations. To each his own peddling for his survival, they remain focus on their dreams as the constellations interconnect them together hoping for emancipation and fulfillment of one’s dreams.


The more engaged pieces in this triptych are enlarged in Planet series. Similar to the characters of The Little Prince, the smaller planets demonstrates one’s larger than life personal space. The lines of the axis serves as background intersecting like drawing dots making them part of the bigger and better version of the universe of us. We merely are specks belonging to an encompassing spectrum. We think locally but should act globally.   



Well versed in this painterly style, Antido has finely matured with his brushstrokes. Starting off with pen and ink on paper he does an acrylic sketch for his first coating. Depending on his desired composition, three coats of paints are mixed and applied layer by layer. Emanating from thinness to thickness, they are done in short but firm strokes are on top of one another. Gradually achieving his aspired texture, he oftentimes lets the previous hues left slightly peering through. He then glazes thereafter. In this certain luminosity marked by his impasto technique, Antido has placed everything in his own unique viewpoint easing out discontentment and frustrations we may have in life.


Antido’s brilliance remains how he sublimely tempers by slowing down his lyrical narrative to whatever fast-paced desperation our present day existence forcibly envelopes us. He diffuses harshness and squalor with the quaint and composed posture of his subjects. This trailblazing spirit is evidenced among Antido’s women such as in Seeking Mothership. They are purpose-driven and strong enough to redirect fate by their own feminine hands. With the wide and open skies of Antipolo influencing his hovering perspective, they cruise afloat driven by their own sentiments towards life. Notice how Antido advocates the traditional Filipino folk values by effectively infusing archaic words as tadhana, muni-muni, and hangarin done in transient cutouts similar to meticulously done pastillas wrapper. By simplifying these big concepts he reinterprets the contemporary by revisiting the positive and holistic with his new varying interpretations. Staple to Antido is that subjects are garbed in Filipiniana in their wholesome wellness and refined gestures--juxtaposing our bygone culture with modern approaches revitalizing fresh meanings in the millennial reading of the image.   

The alarming dying of culture is better interpreted by injecting fantasy or the mythical into something seemingly surreal. In Abducted the endangered carabao and threatened farmer is dislodged in his native soil by UFO. The beaming bright light hints that their simple days are critically numbered.










Spacebound is an upbeat you-and-me-against-the world-love tale. Being stricken by arrows, an eloping couple is pursued by forces against them. Nothing can stop them in breaking free with the power of volition and fate fueling their journey to uncertainty to fate.
In his more than a decade of art practice, Antido has dealt with impermanence and displacement extensively. His anonymous solitary travelers are endlessly searching, seeking for something, or going away. Capturing an ephemeral time in an ethereal place on canvas, some resemble prominent national heroes. More than their similarities in features, it is the character of a Rizal or Bonifacio he longs for his viewers to emulate.
Despite the desolation to our problems and dilemmas outside our lieu of comfort, Antido has kept the faith in expressing reality by revealing magical elements to his colorful visual imagery. Favoring heavenly bodies Antido has a romantic soul, who may have been an astronomer in another lifetime. He never fails to make you swoon upon first sight. With much respect to the audience, he leaves much of his framed portrayal on how they resonate to their liking. An open ended dialogue occurs with him initiating that you stop and look for a while.  

Sa Kalawakan, Irog ay Humayo: 8th Solo Exhibition by John Paul Antido is ongoing at the Boston Gallery until July 22, 2017

17.5.17

Arturo Sanchez Jr: Apocalypse Now

BY JAY BAUTISTA 


The past is knowledge
The present our mistake
And the future we always leave too late
I wish we’d come to our senses and see there is no truth
In those who promote the confusion for this ever changing mood.

My Ever Changing Moods
Style Council (1984)


One day everything will be gone at one fell swoop--we will no longer be here.


This factual eventuality has provoked artist Arturo Sanchez Jr. in Unearthed to further investigate our own near extinction by experiencing the various possibilities of resin in art. 


It was his cutouts etched in layered shifting narratives on mirrors that first gained attention for Sanchez; how he carefully composed by transferring each image to suit his desired effect on what it intently reflects to the viewer.


Again as objects of contemplation, Sanchez continues his collage of cutouts from many printing sources with the assumption of man’s inexistence on earth. Layered with resin, he compliments these images with ghoulish and macabre hues evoking an eerie mood reminiscent of the apocalypse being implied on us.  


Excavation Site (Panel 3)

Excavation Site was initially inspired from Steve Cutts’Man, a four-minute video on how man came to destroy his surroundings including himself. Sanchez always had the forced habit of collecting clutter and debris around him--how he likes things that slowly deteriorate or observe them as they physically disintegrate. With his collection accumulating, he thought of creating that ultimate “end of the world” scenario. Meticulously done like a fine draftsman that he is, Excavation Site is collage in three parts covered in clear-cut resin. Emanating a beautiful tragedy where everything will just be covered in debris. With grayish strokes resembling an impending melancholy in our midst, Sanchez reveals all of man’s folly and his greediness will be his own culprit and eventual downfall. With this exposition in ruins, all his secrets will self-destruct in the dustbin of history. 


New Found Specimen. Collage in Clear Cast Resin

With depopulating the earth and a breakdown of urban systems emerged New Found Specimen 1-4. Using huge quantity of images from several references making each perspective an emerging narrative, Sanchez’s imagination is limitless: ranging from flowers blooming from a clot of blood; a tree trunk morphs into another fabled being; a torso becomes a shelter inhabited by earthy creatures. Connoting an aesthetic honed from our diverse experiences of the everyday, he pours in resin into customized frames resulting in a realist play in abstraction. Sanchez would like to consider continuing this into other series in his next forays.




Enduring Decay is an unfolding surreal drama which involves a sculpture of a boy and girl morphed into a tight embrace on a mound full of animal bones and carcasses. A romantic interlude amidst this infatuated setting exuding beauty in impermanence. A lone mythical bird reminding us all that love is fleeting with only the memory of one another remains. Notice how Sanchez brutally finishes off his pieces with black splats even deepening his evocation of the affection between these tragic lovers. 
Enduring Decay
More like science projects Future Past shifts the focus to more ethereal and mundane subjects in everyday objects. Imitating the natural process of amber in archeological diggings this series provides a glimpse of how artists like Sanchez can be as ordinary beings live and how their lives evolved.

Sanchez attempts to achieve the pale yellow orange effect of amber as his resin fossilizes whatever brought to its attention. Attracted to the intricacies of the method he makes up for what his pieces represent. For Sanchez it could be a simple shell or as complex as exploding egg shells; they could also be the tools of his artistic trade as an overused paint brush, rubber roller, cutting tool or his daughter’s favorite shoe. They are all extensions of his being expanding notions of time, space, process, or participation how materials obstruct, disrupt and interfere both with his being a struggling artist and a devoted father.
Future Past (Paint Brush)

The given simplicity of materials is complicated with the adverse complexity of his process. Sanchez considers many factors to its mortality such as the thickness of his layers, the volume in pouring his resin which is controlled by its varying temperature. Depending upon how the material behaves with resin is another difficulty. Before the resin dries up he must paint over his pieces to achieve the amber haze finish. Finally Sanchez polishes to smooth to be lighted on a customized pedestal.

 
Future Past (Daughter's Shoe)

Coming from a well-appointed position, Sanchez has revived that bygone debate on what and how conceptual art is. For viewers these pieces could be easier seen than done yet it is that element of surprise that grabs them which shows the wit and candor of Sanchez. How each visual and physical memory by the random selection of material evokes like a time capsule is effective in its own context. 








Inspired by the natural desire for the uncharted lies the artistic prowess of Sanchez in capturing what we have been missing out and looking forward to. While 
he makes us conscious of the things we do not see, he transports us to our current actuation and opportunities. With his experiments, we need to step back and marvel at his art’s exuberance for he has captured our evolving mortal transience. In an appropriated time our short lives can be told through Facebook, Instagram, You Tube, but only in Sanchez’s boxes of curiosity and wonder can life be resurrected and celebrated.




Unearthed is ongoing at the West Gallery, West Ave. Quezon City

5.5.17

The Soaring of Little Wing Luna

BY JAY BAUTISTA |

Second of two parts



The first step is understanding the story. And then it’s finding the places where you think pictures might happen.
Amy Toensing
National Geographic Photographer





It took only two words for first-timer Little Wing Luna to get her US Visa: Bob Dylan. It was her honest and truthful self, as she really wanted to see him playing live in New York summertime last year. 
Her two words got her on that plane on her way to meet the soon-to-be Nobel Prize for Literature. With tattooed wings in her already ink-clad body, she was really destined to fly—literally and figuratively.
 
A Teenager Waiting for Her Train
As her early years she would volunteer to take photos during family occasions using her camera. She soon attended photography workshops of photojournalists Luis Liwanag and Alex Baluyut and would became part of Photojournalists’ Center of the Philippines and now works in documenting activities of a government agency.

As many as the bright lights that glitter its most famous skyline, New York has more than a thousand stories to tell for Luna. And to be an effective photographer and convey her message, she would engage her audience by immersing herself, often asking questions or simply by making them smile.

She opted for the gorier subways, as there was more beneath the main pavements and blind alleys above. Down under you meet the rest of humanity—the struggling, the desperate and the live-for-today being transported to various far points of destinations to and from the city. Such as in the case of A Teenager Waiting for Her Train while Listening to Her Music. Unmindful of her chaotic surroundings marked by spontaneous litter and serious graffiti, her innocence is flanked by silence as evident in her plugged in music.
 
Everything has Shape, Texture, and Emotions
Luna opted for black and white photography, which is as old a medium as New York itself: “The streets are so amusing to me--every scene, every character, everything with textures, forms, breaths life. It’s sometimes cool to document them with all honesty. In the street, the mundane becomes surreal,” she explains.

One would wonder how long it took for Luna to imbibe the rhythm of these moments that passed by underneath. Reflecting on this kind of personality, can one really decipher if a photograph was taken by a woman? In A Woman with Heavy Load Riding a Train one could as the viewer is quite disturbed to how the lady is burdened by how her bags defines her individuality.




Everything has Shape, Texture and Emotions is a study of contrasts: leopard dress with velvet boots against metal stairs and cemented paths--all unified for one brief captured instance in a frame. 
It was the great Henri Cartier Bresson who defined what he describes as the decisive moment when the photographer’s eye, mind and heart come into focus together on an image compelling enough to inspire the click of a shutter. Photography is mostly about what and how the subjects are going through or the about to action.

If You See Something, Say Something
If You See Something, Say Something, is both uncanny and riveting. It freezes the moment where one descends to the uncertainty of the stairs. Not revealing the face, it is the identity of every man that she could not conceal from the experience.
     
Favoring musicians Luna could not resist the Purple Haze guitarist in Jimi Hendrix Live in a Subway from her prying yet prowling lens. One can even hear his guitar riff fretting from a far through this image.
Jimi Hendrix Live in a Subway
In time, by the opening and closing of cables Luna has been assured by people’s vibe as patterns of gestures, by the cadence of commuters footsteps, even how their bodies behave alighting and descending the stairs, how fatigue and weariness that takes the shape of their seats. Passengers on Board the Train is one such beautiful instance.
While Santos’ titles are irrelevant assigning only numbers to them, Luna can be as literal as to how she titles her images. Luna is the kind of storyteller unraveling the mystery of the everyday, the familiar in these remotest of places.

“Not really, to be honest. I just want to document the things i see and experienced. Having a cam with me is like carrying my cigs in my bag. I never ever leave home without it,” she adds.

If You Make it Here, You Make it Anywhere
Santos and Luna first foray was Chasing Quotidian three years ago in vMeme Contemporary Art Gallery in Quezon City. Showing their strong feminist perspectives, it was a well-accepted exhibit and affirmation of their passion for their art.

“I really don’t limit myself in photography. I shoot everything and anything; I experiment with my styles, angles, and perspectives. For me photography must be free from all limitations, be spontaneous and unexpected,” she says.  
Passengers on Board

Luna who currently documents various programs for a government agency photography is more like responsibility. Every minute an action happens and one must be ready to shutter and not leave tables perturbed.  One must live to fight another day. Yet Luna still leave something for the viewer Movie Series on Subway Walls.

Luna believes everybody has its own style, the same way as you tell your story as you take your shots: “I got a lot. I guess. I looked at their photos and I’m amazed always, but I believe everybody has its own style. It’s like telling a story, the way you tell your story is the same as taking your shots.”

Notice how none of the New York landmarks were seen in this exhibit, which was a giveaway and we could marvel at them. However Santos and Luna have captured New York the hard way and in a less postcard pretty manner. Some may not be please. Other may opt to call it pure talent. Enough said.


Note: Much has happened since viewing the exhibition on a Thanksgiving last year. From writing before and now Trump and Duterte presidencies all while basking in the scorching heat of May. At any rate be it in New York or in Manila, both Santos and Luna can be found shooting in the streets. In fact Luna was recently named among eight Filipinas for the International Photography Awards.

24.3.17

J.A. Santos: Her Loaded Camera

BY JAY BAUTISTA |


First of two parts

Where the Streets Have No Name


Review of If You See Something,

Say Something by J.A. Santos 

and Little Wing Luna

Oarhouse Pub in Malate Manila 

December 2016-February 2017



 
It is not your usual art exhibition to start with. Photography, by two women, and held in a bar. Although a popular one, frequented by photographers and youth alike. Typical place that Tony Bourdain discreetly chooses when he come visits.

Though the New York-theme was a dangling come on, for their second joint show, it was a conscious, even a conspicuous plan for J.A. Santos and Little Wing Luna: To meet up in New York on the summer of July and shoot scenes/sins from the famous city--the New York moment so to speak.


At a glance, one notices how parallel their lives are. The ones that they bring to their stories both being freelance photojournalists. 



Santos as a seasoned traveler, almost the native Nuyorker who regularly visits her extended family. Luna, on the other hand, comes to the Big Apple for the first time. While Santos opted for color and above the streets Luna digs deeper into the long and longing subway culture. While Santos experiences the hustle and bustle, the dynamism of the streets; Luna dwells within the murky lurid quagmire and monotonous and excruciating life of daily commuting.

 
Travel writer and columnist A.A. Gil was in his usual snootiness when describing New York: It is a club you have been a member for a long time. It is the stage of our collective dramas. You can hate America but love New York. New York is not related at all with her.
 
“When you are visitor to a city you like to hurry up the habits, lay down a pattern, gain predictability in place of roots.” added the late columnist adds. 


Embracing multiculturalism is one of the best things New York has to offer. In fact recent study Queens for its size has one of the diverse places on earth in terms of language, has in fact 800 languages. All the more makes every photographer attend to its unexpected details.


JA Santos: Her Loaded Camera 

Starting late in High School from her teacher who only taught her the basics, Santos liked what she called the “magical” process of the craft. Though Santos did not completely pursue photography then, due to the cost of printing it, he was happy with her point and shoot camera.



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She explains further: Using a camera as a creative tool was a way to explore and discover not just life, scenes, and stories around me but also aspects of my inner self that I had neglected for years — a way to grapple with things outside of me and deep within and develop my ways of seeing, reading, reacting to, and interpreting various aspects of culture and society. 



Without formal training Santos continued to pursue photography in the streets for it being light inexpensive, and spontaneity. Open to discovery, one must have the curiosity and patience to see something interesting or unexpected. In the streets one has to be fast for that spur-of the-moment frames. Quick and skillful enough in capturing capture it.
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Santos is versed on how to layer contrasting textures furthering the dialogue that emits the viewer. Photo 008 depicts the weariness of a lady against the window as backdrop showcasing an artificial plethora of what America has to offer. Her sharp features wrought with anxiety exude tension alarming what may possibly disturb what was supposed to be conventional pleasantness of a picture. Photo 014 continues the uneasiness this time counterpointing black female with white male vis-à-vis the signage Time in Style. The witty play in images something only a versed photojournalist can execute. In describing how she finds such coincidence sharing the frame. 




While my first love in photography is the genre of candid street photography,” Santos explains further, “I have work that overlaps or merges into art, social commentary, and documentary photography/photojournalism.” 



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Her favored subject of juxtaposing the old and the new is once again exemplified in Photo 009. A vandalized red antique lamppost partly hides a millennial boy in yellow. Such simplicity easily results in loaded interpretations. One assumes partly as a voyeur, partly interrogator inquiring further about the situation at hand, of what is about to happen. Santos leaves much to her viewers, as much to her subjects. This is how Santos behaves in her shoots: she is a few moments before what other photographers will grapple with.
 
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Santos often indulges in hints and accents such as that omnipresent blue sky as reflected on the building in Photo 045. Again Santos leaves much of the mystery to be noticed. Her readiness is she is a step before what others will find the standard image. With respect and indulgence as seen in that boy being enveloped like a matador by the gushing afternoon breeze, Photo 012 is like a few minutes before the actual take when the cameras roll action. Santos genius catches this.


Married to graphic and book designer Jordan, both have Santos prefers shooting alone. One must be comfortable with spending long hours in solitude if one would want to pursue street photography.

On the other hand, collaboration and solidarity are also vital to her activities, which is why having a joint-exhibit with a photographer friend and showing work to and being with other artists, photographers, and photojournalists are also enlightening experiences for her.

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“When I rediscovered photography in 2010, I was more familiar with the work of painters and other artists, not photographers. So probably some of my visual influences are artists whose work I’ve admired over the years such as Matisse, Caravaggio, Rene Magritte, Edward Hopper and the films of Krzysztof Kieslowski, Wong Kar-wai, Akira Kurosawa, and other directors. Later, when I began to actively research and read about photography, I would gravitate toward the work of Robert Frank, Alex Webb, William Albert Allard, William Eggleston, Garry Winogrand, David Alan Harvey, Duane Michals, Nan Goldin, and Philip Jones Griffiths, among others,” explains Santos on her influences.  



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Even the theme of love never escapes an intended pun for Santos. As their turn their backs to the viewer Photo 022 emphasizes what the sign on the upper right signage: collect what you love. It seems the man patiently waits for her ladylove to choose among the array of books being sold. Or was she just bidding time?


Santos has always been fascinated with the everyday and the mundane such as work and daily activities, commuting, habits, gestures, manners, signs, texts, and objects which she expresses reveal much about our society, culture, politics, traditions, institutions, and the systems in which we operate and which have a profound influence on our lives. She has even dealt with complex and current political issues such as mental illness displaced communities to street protests to the changes that cities undergo. 
 
Santos only needs four colors to interpret the world with just a loaded camera in hand.