Curtis Talwst Santiago
October 16 – November 16, 2018
We are pleased to present in partnership with Florida State College the solo exhibition "Unlocking Key" by internationally recognized multidisciplinary artist Curtis Santiago. Santiago's work explores issues of multiculturalism, genetic memory, ancestral imagination and lineage through the diaspora experience in painting, drawing, sculpture and most recently printmaking. The Unlocking Key – the exhibition’s namesake – is inspired by Santiago’s familial connections and the internal dialog with what it means to make perfect pieces.
When Santiago was 8 years old he met his extended family for the first time in Trinidad and attended the annual J'ouvert celebration with his cousins. The daybreak J'ouvert celebration is associated with the emancipation from slavery in 1838; this was the point in which formerly enslaved individuals had the opportunity to freely celebrate carnival. Santiago noticed carnival members had covered their faces in red clay – a carryover tradition in remembrance of ancestral participants of J'ouvert. As celebrations peaked and participant’s faces began to glow in the sun, Santiago was struck and stood stunned in the crowd. This singular moment stuck with him for the rest of his life and has since heavily influenced his painting and drawing practice, his recognizable and noteworthy “Red Face” portraits act as letters and conversations with the spirits if his ancestors.
As Santiago dove further in depth channeling his lineage, he began to notice a painting following him and coming up over and over in his research. Chafariz d’El-Rey (The King’s Fountain) a 16th century painting by an unknown Flemish artist depicts an African Knight from the Order of Santiago riding through central Lisbon. Its repeated appearances triggered further research and initiated Santiago’s move to Portugal in late-2017 to create a new body of work revolving around the Black Knight imagery, further research into the medieval lineal ties of the name Santiago. While working and settling in Lisbon the painting made another appearance in his life after a chance encounter with acquaintances, Santiago was able to view the painting in person and become friends with its owners. This moment solidified he and his works connection to the piece’s history and catapulted his studio practice and codified latest bodies of works from the last year.
With the opening of the exhibition, we will be releasing three new lithograph works created with Master Printer Patrick Miko during Curtis’s residency with us in the winter of 2017, two editioned lithographs and a suite of monoprints. They will all be available for purchase October 16, 2018 through the Long Road Projects website