Santiago Ydáñez‘s work represents another extension of the poetics on the body that have been so influentual over the past years in the international scene. Nonetheless, in his case it is around painting – as it is in other different cases from Luc Tuysmans to Marlene Dumas – that different questions, that seem to interest critics and artists, are formulated about identity or human nature.
The fact that a painted portrait is an instrument of choice – and we are purposedly calling it instrument rather than theme – has made it so that he be associated with, above all a tradition that includes Edward Munch and Francis Bacon, rather than the poetics that we are referring to now. Because of this he has been classified as, I think superficially, Expressionist or Neoexpressionist, based solely on the appearance of his work. What is worse is that a careful analysis of appearance, in truth, leads to opposed conclusions.
Ydáñez concerns himself with how that moment of capture can be expressed. For him painting is an instrument and not an aim unto itself, something characteristic of all of the postmodern aesthetic tactics. In the case of repetition, it is not a heroic and tragic act, but something that has more to do with the neutrality of minimalist serializing.
The chromatic use of black and white refers to the apparent photographic or cinematographic objectivity and, in fact, many frames demonstrate an interest in film – Paco Barragán has spoken of Cassavetes and Lynch – as relevant as the interest he has for painting.
Ydáñez’s paintings speak to us, precisely, of the opposite, of how the subjectivity of painting as it refers to gestures can be used objectively. By doing so he is, perhaps, fleeing from the anonymous subject of the fateful Neoepressionists that gave such a bad reputation to painting after a euphoria that was not always, in order to be fair, groundless. In any case the absence of color in Ydáñez’s work highlights its conceptual nature. By avoiding Naturalism and Symbolism, that would allow for those violent chromatisms that one can imagine as inherent to those distorted faces, he converts his work into declarations and consequently into representations.