During the last decade, Santiago Merino has developed one of the most innovative art productions in Mexico. His multiple artistic, technical and aesthetic-formal findings unify his work by linking the old traditions of Western painting with the legacies of twentieth-century modern and contemporary painting and the virtual and global circulation of twenty-first century images. His production encompasses more than twenty series and works, an important part of which he has developed by utilizing two principal techniques: the application of plastic materials such as industrial plastic wrap, and the adaptation of basic mechanical tools, ink markers and small rollers for example, with which he implements pictorial strokes in series.
Emplayados (Wrapped) is a highly versatile series that interconnects a good part of many of his works and series through the use of industrial plastic wrap. Together with other techniques and resources, this simple but ductile plastic packaging material has provided the basis from which to explore the conversion of the stretcher bar and canvas into mere objects, to expand painting into the realms of architectural space and landscape, as well as redefine discrete images and the work or materials of other artists. To this triad of processes Merino adds the development of one of his greatest contributions revealed by his explorations into industrial plastic wrap and the expanded field of painting: the evocation of the transparency, opacity, viscosity, liquidity, warmth and coldness of pictorial matter, without using a drop of paint.
Diálogos de Celuloide (Celluloid Dialogs) is a series in which Merino has made a balance between the use of rollers or sprays and the use of pictorial gesture and calligraphy, the spatio-temporal aspect of film, and events such as those that give form and materiality to reading and writing. This sophisticated, complex, simultaneous convergence of different disciplines defines Diálogos de Celuloide and links up with other series in which the repetition of gesture drawing using rollers and state-of-the-art felt-tip pens and ink markers leads to the multiple reproduction of abstract images. Here is where Merino’s work emerges as a solid pictorial and aesthetic comment on the new visual forms unleashed by film, television and computer science technology that appear on television or computer screens, together with their image and text editing programs. This context makes Santiago’s explorations highly relevant in today’s digital culture and information age. He carries out his proposal with simple mechanical, analogical instruments, thus contributing to the renewal of twentieth-century abstract art traditions and its extension into the twenty-first century, a contribution that adds a chapter to the growing artistic discoveries arising from post-peripheral Latin America.
Today, Santiago’s work is simultaneously maturing and expanding in its grand capacity for technical experimentation and aesthetic innovation, as well as in the growing relevance of its processes and topics. The critical view taken by the artist in his intervention Colaboraciones Forzadas (Forced Collaborations) demonstrates how he connects these processes and topics to his social, cultural and political environment at increasingly greater depths. Furthermore, the diversification and standpoint he makes evident through his recent use of media as diverse as video, objects, fresco painting and even waste material position Santiago Merino as one of the most solid, promising painters and visual artists to emerge from Mexico at the beginning of the twenty-first century.