Home Magazine A Pioneering Abstractionist: Jorge Luis Santos


Today we take a deep dive into the self-taught artist Jorge Luis Santos's life. The master of abstract canvases has always held an allegorical perspective to discover the meaning in the world, which has permitted him to live in his lifetime as well as in the future.

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Since leaving his home country of Cuba in 2016, Jorge Luis Santos has taken the art world by storm with his unparalleled energy and striking statement pieces. He is at the forefront of two major art waves, Gestural Abstraction, and Neo-expressionism. Santos creates visceral abstract works on a monumental scale. Taking a mental and physical approach towards his work, Santos wields paint like an extension of himself, and it is not uncommon to find him creating on his studio floor and leaving shoe prints, hand prints, and paint splatters alongside brush strokes in his pieces.  

Art critic and independent curator Elsa Dopico explains: Santos "gives free rein to the gesture, to furious and dynamic informalism, superimposing various planes without removing any layers, like a palimpsest. These works are produced and signed in the act of frenzy: the artist uses his hand and paintbrush at high speed, juxtaposing colors. The importance of the work is  in the splashes of color, the feeling the abstract blotch conveys for each piece in particular, and  for the collection as a whole."  

Art Critic Rufo Caballero echoes Dopico's sentiment and further describes Santos' approach to his art as a "love story." In his words, the artist attacks make vulnerable, improves, hates, and loves what his hands create in the same way that a tumultuous relationship ebbs and flows. With love, there is pain, extreme closeness, passion, tenderness, desires, and conversation.  

Born on June 2nd, 1973, in Quivicán, Cuba, Jorge Luis Santos is a self-taught artist that does not allow himself to be constrained by just one medium, and throughout his career, he has demonstrated his versatility through various techniques as he is not tied down to one medium,  having worked with both painting and sculpture and found object collage. While living in Cuba, the expressionistic range often revolved around the urban landscape. White, black, and ochre dominated his canvases, which often had a texture reminiscent of stucco or cement. However,  upon his arrival to the States, he began to witness a sea change in his paintings, a liberation of color, and mark, leading to the work he produces today.  

On Santos, Elsa Vega Dopico says: "[he] is unquestionably one of the most important Cuban abstract painters of the past two decades. He is the torch-bearer for a once avant-garde  movement that experienced its zenith in the 1950s and, today confronts the challenges of  contemporary visuality: an infinitely renewable universe that uses new expressive techniques  along with less-traditional materials (in addition to acrylic, he has worked in oil, mixed media,  found objects, iron, and wood)."  

Jorge Luis Santos has exhibited his work extensively in both solo and group exhibitions as well as institutions, galleries, and art fairs internationally since 1994. His work has been written about and discussed by prominent Cuban scholars and critics, including Rafael Acosta de Arriba,  Elivia Rosa Castro, Nelson Herrera Ysla, Else Vega Dopico, and José Manuel Noceda, amongst others. Further, his works are represented in the permanent collections of the Pérez Art  Museum (Miami, USA), the Cuban Museum of Fine Arts (Vienna. Austria), Museo Nacional de  Bellas Artes (Havanna, Cuba), and the private collection of Jorge Pérez.  

Santos does not rest; his mind is constantly thinking about his next series of works, which both his critics and general audience anticipate. His excellent command of technique and impeccable execution delight, and the unceasingly charged meaning and symbolism of his pieces trigger questions and reflection. Santos has chosen an allegorical perspective to discover meaning in the world, which permits him to live in his lifetime and into the future.  

Jorge Luis Santos currently lives and works in Miami, Florida. He has a large online following alongside his physical exhibitions.


Cover image: Courtesy of Evey Fine Art

Written by Evey Fine Art

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