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this is you and me by Santiago
this is you and me is a digital painting by Santiago. It is a vibrant and dynamic scene, full of expression, movement and is dream-like as well. It feels to me as the artist has captured a glimpse of latent space, replicated a scene from a dream, and/or shown us a scene from a virtual world. Figures project from the walls, with arms open wide, reaching out with purpose. All but one figure is looking away from the viewer, to the right side of the frame, to the future. What are they trying to say to us? Perhaps it's as David Sylvian sings in Orpheus: "Sunlight falls, my wings open wide. There's a beauty here I cannot deny." Yet Orpheus is a sombre, haunting version of this painting. The visual scene in this work feels lighter, brighter and hopeful.
Santiago. this is you and me. 2023. Digital painting. 1488 x 1488 pixels. Reproduced from Twitter.
Apart from the figures, the wall also draws the viewer in, inviting them to take a closer look at the drawings and plants littered around the walls. Is this an interior room or exterior wall? The use of flat, bright and highly contrasted colours, particularly the pink and orange, speaks to the digital-ness of the landscape. The pink brushstroke in top left corner feels like thickly applied watercolour, where the paint pools on first stroke and you can just see the thickness of the brush and pooling of each row of applied colour. Yet it's the digital painterly feel, the unnatural, glossy, plastic-like paint as viewed on a glass screen, rather than on a piece of paper or canvas. There's an uncanny feel about the scene: the perspective is almost one point perspective, but not quite — the edges of the walls seem to have multiple, uneven joins, shifting the position of them. Is it one wall or many morphed together? This leads back to the dream-like quality and also suggests a virtual world. Are we seeing many moving images captured as one? The paintings on the walls are bounded by expressive thin lines, that could be ink or graphite. Some look like quick, expressive sketches, others finished works. It's the scene of an artist's fertile and imaginative mind, many future and past works and ideas in varying stages of completion. There's suggestions of portraits, and also eco/bio-influences, with the many pot plants and greenery littered across the walls, many suspended in air. The wall has cutout windows, at varying levels, merging the background into the foreground, adding interest to the scene. The floor is strewn with domestic objects, adding life to the scene — stools, tables and chairs, papers, even a dog, and a person curiously kneeling in the left corner with hands covering their face. Whilst the background is predominantly flat, there is depth and shading in the figures and furniture, adding an extra dimension to them, and making them more familiar to the viewer, despite their wonky forms.
Santiago is an artist from Uruguay in South America. I'm looking forward to researching more art from this region to see local influences, but in the meantime, looking with Australian eyes, I see glimpses of references such as Brett Whiteley, Russell Drysdale, Sydney Nolan and Fred Williams, albeit unintentionally by the artist. It makes me wonder which works Stable Diffusion 2 has been trained on, and what the prompt was for this scene.
Overall, a wonderful world-building painting, which invites the viewer to spend time with it, seeing more on each viewing.
Neymrqz. 2023. "this is you and me". Twitter. Accessed on 13 March, Tweet.
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