2018, gesso and oil on linen
polyptych, seven pieces 40x30cm
Santiago ALEMAN (b. 1972 as Julian Ramirez Rentero)
After studying architecture, landscape and public space in three Universities, Politécnica de Valencia, (Spain), RWTH Aachen (Germany) and Mie Daigaku (Japan) he embarks on a continuum of semi nomadic existences that led to the genesis of artist persona Santiago Aleman around the year 2014.
In 2019, he participated in the 58th Edition of the Venice Biennale under the Faces Pavilion in the Arsenale with a polyptych altarpiece of vernacular abstraction. The same year, he had a pivoting solo show in Beijing, at the ji-tu space, Natural Light, where he came upon the importance of the socio realities surrounding a project in the materialisation of the work itself.
He has been invited to the renowned artist residency at the Swatch Art Peace Hotel in Shanghai, and he has taught concepts of space and architecture at the Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, in Suzhou, both in China throughout 2017 and 2018.
Although his oeuvre is predominantly vernacular painting, his work in photography, slow-motion video and loops addresses the subject of the eternal recurrence in the collective subconscious. The idea of idiotic repetition in human behaviour and its consequences on environmental realities is expressed in works like Intimacy (2018-2022) or Snow Two (2018).
He currently lives and works in London, England.
Santiago Aleman’s practice ranges from paintings and sculpture to video and land installations. His colourful groups of paintings confront reality from the perspective of a geometrical abstraction comprised of hard-edge shapes and a non-academic use of materials.
His work generally converges into groups: diptychs, triptychs and other polyptychs. These rest on the idea that, rather than an individual acting in isolation; a group of elements (society, tribe, village) and the asymmetrical relationship between them is the way to build a more harmonious whole.
Concerned with the translation of the vernacular onto canvas, Aleman’s abstractions eliminate all references to an academic approach, pursuing freedom of gesture and spatial dynamism with non-traditional tools, including mixing of oils, acrylics and water based gessos, support surfaces from unprimed linens, reclaimed wood and rods of labourer tools from his homeland in La Mancha. Such simple, anti-hierarchical materials and techniques provide a corollary to the “do it yourself” aesthetic of the works.
The ideas of retelling and recurrence are fundamental to his oeuvre. From here he develops his way of considering his work a process, by allowing the ability to revisit and transform, to overlay statements that are created by using gestures originating within the lexicon of the vernacular.
In counterpart to the paintings and installations, Aleman’s videos and loops suggest a manual production that also explore the theme of recurrence.
wall me 1
2019, oil and gesso on cotton duck
Levo, at the 58th Venice Biennale, May You Live In Interesting Times. Faces Pavilion, Arsenale della Biennale. 2019
Polyptych, various sizes.