Santiago Paredes draws on his music training when painting to find the harmony in an image
Santiago’s interest in working with different media stems from a love of materials and objects, composing artworks then deciding of the best format to express his idea.
- Ruby Boddington
- 7 September 2020
Based in Buenos Aires, Santiago Paredes is one of those artists who seems to not be able to sit still. Working across several media, he flips flops around formats, forever channeling his distinctive style into something new. Largely self-taught, it’s the very intersection of design, fashion and art which interests him; something he also gets to explore in his role as co-director of Moria Contemporary Art Gallery, alongside Lucia Evangelista.
From a young age, Santiago knew he wanted to do something creative, “never an astronaut, doctor or lawyer… maybe an archeologist,” he remarks, “but from a very young age I thought that I’d end up working for Disney or illustrating magic cards.” This interest in creativity led him to study music for many years, before he realised that through painting, he could express himself more directly.
He learned much of what he knows regarding the medium of paint when working for a friend and artist Daniel Scheimberg, who had a fridge full of paints in his studio. “In hindsight, I was like a waiter for colour, kind of like a barman,” Santiago tells us. “He requested colours and I mixed them on the spot. So I learned in a short timeframe what would have me taken years about colour harmony and simultaneous contrast.”
Interestingly, Santiago’s years in music education have also profoundly impacted upon his artistic practice, endowing him with a “sensibility for composing with rhythm, harmony and the tone of the image.” It’s for this reason that Santiago describes his process as searching for the tonal sensations of the work, creating images which radiate musicality. “When I’m painting, I am always thinking in chords, one part is answered by the other,” he outlines. “So I’m orchestrating until I’m satisfied with the final harmony of all the parts.”
His interest in working with different media stems from a love of materials and objects, with Santiago often collecting things he finds on the street to take inspiration from. When working on a piece, he will first compose the artwork and then think “which method of reproduction would best enhance its characteristics.” Again, he references his time in the music world, comparing this process to writing a song and then deciding if it would be best performed by a rock band or chamber choir. Sometimes this sees him working with “furry and sensual” surfaces and other times its “a rigid and transparent UV plexiglass print which lets light filter through without losing the definition of the design.” The outcomes, no matter what the format, abound with colour and vibrancy, a hyperreal translation of our world.
As he works across so many outputs, we asked Santiago if he favours one over the others and his clear response is that fashion excites him the most. It’s the unpredictability of the discipline, he tells us: “When you create a piece and someone tries it on it becomes one thing, and yet then, on another person it becomes a completely different phenomenon.” It makes sense then that he is also fascinated by the evolution of a garment alongside its owner; “if they use it for a special event or not, or if they only wear it at home, if they douse it with their perfume or take it away with them on holiday. The clothing can enjoy a much more diverse life than just being a rectangle on the wall.”
Like many artists, lockdown afforded Santiago the chance to reflect on his practice and he used it as a moment to take stock of his achievements to date. The result is three self-published publications. The first, Me Aburro, Mauro, comprises work he produced during isolation. They feature a desaturated palette, “Somehow with a more intimate and private spirit both in its representation and in the general tone of the paintings.” The second Uwu “brings together paintings from the start of the year, when the world was different to what it is now.” They were made during a holiday to the Delta and have a “a very vivid and Mediterranean tone, a very even light – like midday.” And the third, There is a snake in my boot (Hay una serpiente en mi bota) looks at Santiago’s darker works. “I’m especially interested in their visual-reading time. As they are dark but saturated colours, they appear little by little,” he adds on this collection of works.
Always building on his ambitions, Santiago is currently working on a collection of patterned mirrors, rugs, and ceramics. There’s also a winter collection of reversible clothing on its way which features bags, coats and jackets and a series of experiments with printing onto foam board. Finally, he says: “I have done some very strange vases, let’s see where that leads… I do hope that I continue surprising myself!”
GallerySantiago Paredes (Copyright © Santiago Paredes, 2020)
Santiago Paredes: Black is the New Black (Copyright © Santiago Paredes, 2020)
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor.