The Syncretism of the XXI Century

A review by Rodolfo Rivas

The young painters who were born in the second half of the twentieth century inherit a tradition of five centuries of naturalistic painting. They are also witness to a break in this tradition occurring at the dawn of the twentieth century which, in some respects, envisioned solutions that resonate more with pre-Renaissance and tribal art forms.

On his canvas, Cesar Santos expresses this dichotomy that some wish to ignore. "This period - he once told me - must necessarily be a syncretic one, and I say it openly... sometimes I cry it out."

Syncretism is a philosophical vision intending to reconcile different doctrines, a social mechanism that attenuates the confrontation between antagonistic tendencies competing for the same space.

Santos' new body of work undertakes the task of accommodating the foremost outstanding trends of the past six centuries. Employing refined techniques of formal representation acquired during his studies in Europe, and understanding the contemporary turns, he finds a meeting point where these tendencies interact in a lively and unpredictable way. The binding element that allows this daring rendezvous is a very personal mixture of artistic sensibility, irreverence and wit. The spark that ignites the blast is his sense of humor, occasionally caustic or ironic.

The ultimate goal of Cesar's syncretic work is to establish a new painterly realm with its own defined characteristics; like any other legitimate process of evolution, it gains a foothold in the preceding stages until the assimilation of the opposing trends is expressed as a newly born and unified entity.

"At the end -says Santos- we will obtain a more genuine product, capable to explore new creative avenues, the best of both worlds."