Without a doubt, talking about the influence that the grand masters or exponents of the many artistic currents helps us recognize and understand that their contributions to our training as painters are fundamental; nonetheless, when such influence comes from an artist who is our friend, the energy we receive from their work is more vivid.
When the artist’s experiences manage to touch us is fantastic, but if we also are lucky enough to have their company and enjoy their conversations, their work acquires another dimension, for before us a series of life experiences that allow us to understand it more is revealed; this sensation transforms into complicity when we are part of their adventures and participate in countless tattles that only good anecdotes can offer.
Luisito Santana always lived as ‘an artist’, gifted with a great sensibility and technical capacity way above the average of those of us, who were his classmates, argument that allowed him to have the great privilege of living off art eternally.
His pilgrimage on this earth was not rushed, but with urge to devour life that it would seem like just painting was able to give him that calm he always seemed desire; paradoxically, he was a guy that, upon the slightest provocation, he let himself be drunk with laughter in such a way it would seem more like a snore, which would cut his breathing when making an effort to get more air only to continue laughing, provoking with it the laughter of everyone who listened to that distinctive ‘rictus’.
I constantly remember all our long walks among the railroad tracks, with no more purpose than killing time or, maybe, only to whack, even more, his old paint stained tire-sole sandals. Likewise, he loved orange juice with a little vodka while inhaling the smoke of his laughter after spending every penny in his purse with the simple purpose of having a good time with his loved ones. His personality was forged by the excesses proper of the cliché of being an artist, which made him a person capable of jumping to the void only to confirm that he was alive. From his plastic work, we can observe how psychedelia and figurativism were in shameless concubinage; therefore, we can observe a stupendous color management, which always provoked in me a grief similar to envy due to the chromatic ranges of such naturalness that they looked like they were made effortlessly; likewise, he was blessed with such a tidiness that I never saw him make a ‘mixy’ (name given to the result of soiling colors when mixing them). Luisito always used the correct amount that each piece demanded; along with this, his shape management emphasized a unique style that allowed him to recreate cats of such a stoned appearance that it was normal to see them next to winged cows that flew around shamelessly, cohabitating the same canvas.
I like to remember him and know that I could always count on his nice suggestions and failed attempts to make me understand that the chromatic circle should not be memorized like it was a multiplication table, but, on the contrary, be an inherent part of a dialog with the current work; Luisito represented a great part of my university life: in good and bad times, we finished this phase in our life like two huge friends, and it was life who made it sure that each of us took our own path until there was a time when our meetings were so scarce that I used to measure time by verifying the maturity his work acquired each time.
One day, like any other day, I said goodbye to him in a long distance phone call and it was the last time I listened to his voice; regarding his work, few of it remains, in part, because most of it were wall paintings that time has devoured and, on the other hand, the photograph registry of his work is almost non-existent due to, as I like to blame, the analog photograph age.
My #TwoCoins about the influence of his work is so impeccable that I can confirm that, in a large extent, Nono owes him his energy and desire to snatch transcendent moments from life through painting.
I never imagined not being able to see him paint and now I know, that wherever he is, he is still doing it. Rest in peace, painter, mentor, and friend Luis Santana.