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eman santos



Eman Mediana Santos on nurturing his own art and familial values The bond between mother and child is said to be primal, a celebration life through birth as well as nurturing and to be able to capture this scene in canvas is a pure wonder. Although there has a tumult of cultural and artistic references made on this theme, tirelessly camouflaging one after the another to a point where originality and creative takes are almost lost, with its universal appeal, mother and child paintings remains one of the most enduring and timeless themes in the art. There have been scores of Filipino artists who have engaged in said theme. While also being fascinated with the theme, Eman Santos has manage to develop that certain finesse in the articulation of this kind of bond and tender intimacies. Santos’ sincerity and earnestness to his own conviction makes him a distinct artist in this genre. His idea is to advance his own surface and vamp up new approaches to a much articulated theme and perhaps many would agree that he ably did so. His images have become warmly recognizable in many ways apart from his colleagues. Personal, Sentimental and Spiritual Santos’ works reflect his ideals. Commonly seen in his works are probing themes of love, family, respect, loyalty and other values in moody settings. As a spiritual person, his personal experiences make his works emotional and psychological statements of himself as young artist and a man. According to Santos, his conceptual rationale is plain and parochial often characterized by an overlapping emotional directness and profoundness. Santos feels his art is a collation of personal and familiar memories, thus he unrelentingly continues to paint his immediate environment, his family, even his pets and other suggestions of personal affinities. He incorporates a variety of images not just of because of a sense of style or subtle accentuation but a predilection to be immediately personal. Thus, recasting familiar symbols in most of his paintings is no surprise. His staple, the stylized mother and child with images of either a woman singing a lullaby to her child or playing a guitar or any instrument or simply the gaze of motherly embrace are evocative scenes of love and delicate intimacies which he has skillfully visualized all this time. Although, he has been reputed to paint fresh visualization of mother and child genre, he has also other works in the same stylistic approaches which are scenes of street life, home, family in the spirit of togetherness. Set mostly within a garden or underneath a canopy bamboos and bahay kubo, as a background provides the air of compassionate rustic mood perfectly evoking such familial bond. The naturalness suggested by the thick vegetation provides a sense of nature and nurture fittingly indicating a visual code or subtext to his favorite subject. Characters and figures are accessibly Filipino as they are dressed in local garb and draperies often with a bandana, a salakot and or women dressed in the traditional saya and other local references like scenes in a jeepney, tricycles and other familiar scenes inside a Filipino home. They are often surrounded by animals by a rooster and a spotted dog, elements of personal sentimentalities to this artist. Santos’ recent paintings would reveal his commitment for reinvention and growth. As most mother and child paintings often bear that melodramatic and dense drama of maternal love to a point of being taught and grim. Santos contends that they can be fun too. His paintings are the probably one of the most colorful or gaudy visualization of the theme. Colorful as they may look, they remain hauntingly evocative. His vibrant subjective palette of saturated and brightly hued colors is suggestive of freshness and positive spirit to his folk narratives and other works. His art can be seen as a jovial and colorful reconfiguration of folk and rural themes. Though still possessing that organic dimensionality of his human subjects, their skin tones are now alternating from brown to pink to show his own playful take. In general, his works would alternate from bright airy colors to more dark and brooding hues. But he has his staples of blue, red, green and brown. Clearly his newest works exploit the emotive potential of colors to communicate “a visual experience of feelings and spirituality. “ While painting without a photographic source, these imaginative figurative works are also formed sometimes by accident because once he renders outline, he commits himself to whatever original image comes out. His more current works however hark back to his earlier stint as portrait artist wherein he was able to master anatomy and details having drawn many portraits. These works resolutely produce qualities of engaged experimentation with texture, movement and composition. Using a lot techniques and compositional devices including elongation, distortion, Santos’ works manage to provide their own creative appeal while having more expressive qualities or subjects with more open expression as well as more kinetic or suggestive movement. In any event, the figures seem more carefully worked and less rote as compared to the mechanical expression seen in mother and child compositions. Indeed, Santos has demonstrated his sincerity over his chosen theme and subjects by coming up with novel ways of depicting the complexities and banality of mother and child paintings. And though a thousand images of mother and child paintings may come out, Santos’ works will endure because he manages to suggest new forms and stages of expressions in painting filial love.

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