“Flourish Series 1” by Santiago Mallan
Artist: Santiago Mallan
Medium: Silver Gel on Black Paper
Size: 12 x 12″
Description: Using a visual language that draws from calligraphy and architectural ornament, my work addresses a question that has long driven both scientific and spiritual inquiry: how does the universe create structures of such rich order and complexity from such apparently simple, random laws? Everywhere we look in the natural world, we are confronted by an immense variety of highly specific, purposeful systems; yet when we observe the processes which compose them, we find that they are often driven by chance. In the Flourish series, I explore this tension using basic, curved lines and a methodology that emphasizes repetition and randomness. Each piece begins with a single line that branches out and spreads gradually across the page as I add to it; in this way, I attempt to relinquish the human instinct to control and predict the composition, allowing it to flow freely and take shape as a natural being might.
Using this approach, I am able to create forms that emulate the playful growth of a sprouting tree, the wisp of white smoke from an extinguished candle, and the undulation of swirling eddies in a rushing stream. These familiar shapes strike us with their energy and grace, their joyous, effortless beauty; I hope that my works can do the same. But perhaps more importantly, I hope that they will prompt the viewer to ask questions: how do these patterns inspire such wonder? Why do they recur, again and again, in living and non-living systems alike? What can we learn from the feelings of hope and clarity that they instill in us? And why do these feelings seem increasingly rarer and more precious in today’s world?
By making use of a highly abstracted, almost typographic visual vocabulary, I also hope to call attention to the ways that artists have always attempted to beautify the commonplace. The oft-overlooked efforts of decorative artisans and designers from every culture have given us relics of breathtaking beauty; the exquisite carvings of a temple wall, the delicate weavings of embroidered tapestry, and the fanciful marginalia of an illuminated manuscript all serve to imbue our experience with a vivid sensory satisfaction. As our built environment becomes more and more homogenous and alienating, and the forms around us seem increasingly determined by considerations of cost and efficiency rather than human needs, I hope to reaffirm the virtues of thoughtful design and patient, skillful labor.
Part of the Glimmer Show.