As traditional subjects of still life paintings, flowers have been depicted both for their innate and organic aesthetic and also for their value as symbolic objects. Being signifiers of both formal beauty and iconography, the representation of blooms has become a distinct though waning tradition in the visual arts.
A painter known for her lifelike portrayals of flowers, Mona Santos breathes fresh air into this genre with Transition, her latest solo exhibition at Finale Art File. The exhibit is comprised of oil on canvas paintings, portraying a bounty of blooms and the artist’s self-portraits.
Santos’ mastery of the medium has in the past created an entire collection of floral paintings—technically adept and aesthetically delicate renderings that can instill a sense of wonder at the creations of nature. Her portrayals of blooms have long gone beyond the technically photorealistic. Instead, they capture the grace and luminosity of her floral subjects with sensual precision, in ways that not all photographs can.
In Transition, Santos uses two predominant color palettes in her paintings: images cast in greys, mauve, and taupe hues and a separate suite of flowers in cream, tinged with green and yellow.
These two different sets are juxtaposed in the artist’s self-portraits, separated by a strip of line drawings. Rendered in oil and graphite on canvas, the processes of drawing and painting intersect at this point, emphasizing the linear elegance and precision of Santos’ works. While the rich tones of oil paint can capture tangible surfaces of petals, the hard lines of graphite replicate the mechanical patterns of floral and graphic prints.
In Transition, the artist’s self-portraits are set against a bed of blooms, seamlessly merging both texture and textile, skin and surface. But perhaps the similarities between the artist and blooms as subjects go beyond the grace of physical form. Santos documents not just a literal transition from one subject to another, but also merges two disparate images by consciously stripping the medium down to its barest essentials through lines. Such visual cues perhaps also hint at formal and stylistic transitions in Mona Santos’ process and repertoire of art-making.
Artworks from the Show
Blooms I, Mona, 2012, Oil on canvas, 36×36 in
Blooms II, Mona, 2012, Oil on canvas, 36×36 in
Blooms III, Mona, 2012, Oil on canvas, 36×36 in
Blooms, Mona, 2012, Oil on canvas, 48×72 in
Self Portrait, Mona, 2012, Oil & graphite on canvas, 48×72 in
Untitled, Mona, 2012, Oil & graphite on canvas, 48×84 in