Friday, April 11, 2008

Cesar Santalo Collage

My portraits are comprised of collage materials such as magazines, newspaper pictures, personal photographs and cloth glued to wood, cardboard and paper. I begin by laying in the dark tonalities with acrylic paint or garbage bags. I then place cutout pieces from magazines which are usually the mid-tones and highlights of the portrait. By working from the inside out, I am never really sure how big my work will be. Pieces of glued paper surfaces are added to enlarge the canvas size. Rough and cutout edges are typical of my work. Many of my portraits contain small cutout pictures of celebrities such as: Oprah Winfrey, Marilyn Monroe, Janet Jackson, Tupac Shakur, Jennifer Lopez, Puff Daddy and Elizabeth Taylor.

The true essence of my work is to be able to view recognizable objects and pictures up close. Then as you step back the hue and tone of each cutout picture fuses to create a harmonious pictorial representation of a person. This visual experience is similar to the recent paintings of Chuck Close who uses large circular brush strokes of color in his portraiture. Now the beauty lies in extinguishing the power of these content ridden images from magazines transforming them into pure color and tone from a distance. Unlike Close, my work is more painterly than photographic from a distance. Using strong images such as famous people and branded products helps me in creating this two world experience of near and far viewing. The viewer would be more impacted if a recognizable image transformed into nothing more than perceived color from a distance (Now you see it, now you don't). This would result in a greater visual dichotomy.

Another of my influences is Romaire Beardon, who depicted the daily lives of the people of Harlem where he lived. Beardon's approach to depicting humanity and character has always been a great inspiration to me. Beardon would use cut-out faces from magazines and use the literal interpretation of them; a face became a face. Unlike Beardon, I try to use that same face to represent color on a figure. The images, like bottles, watches and people then become hidden in their new role as color. At the same time the viewer is aware these colors are really cut pieces from magazines not painted color. Through the use of these elements I try to demonstrate how the smallest most insignificant picture, ad, or product influences us on a conscious and subconscious level. Placing a picture from a Hip Hop magazine next to a picture from Time magazine creates a dialogue between the two cutout pieces.

Regardless of our economic, political and ethnic background, we are surrounded by similar visual stimuli on a daily basis. This is prevalent in today's economic wave of globalism which increases connectivity and interdependence of the world's markets and businesses. Similar images and subject matter can be used to paint the portraits of people from all walks of life. This visual freedom allows me to make the collage more dynamic because of the contrasting textures, colors and subject matters.


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