‘Searching in old folk tales and customs I chose traditional themes without being narrative. I love to say that I invent nothing, I just rediscover.’
Rooted in tradition and customs, Kristof Santy’s work is an amalgamation of various visual elements of everyday life. Thematically ranging from classical portraiture to kaleidoscopic still lifes, Santy’s artistic practice covers a multitude of enigmatic imagery often populated by interiors, landscapes, gastronomy and folklore tales. Rendered in bright and vibrant palettes, his works possess a joyous and playful quality.
Maintaining his work is not narrative-based, Santy does not view himself as a storyteller, instead he allows the imagery to speak for itself. Employing reality as his main instrument, Santy’s eclectic studio along with his art book and folk art collections serve as immediate aesthetic inspiration. Though he studied the works of many 19th and 20th century artists, it was while exploring the works of Philip Guston and Jean Brusselmans that Santy discovered his distinct way of painting.
Building dynamic compositions around seemingly mundane scenes which capture his imagination, Santy creates imagery that exudes a sense of familiarity. For his Platform exhibition, Santy chose a coherent selection of four large-scale still lives, focusing on the interplay between colour, form and shape. These pieces are the product of Santy’s current artistic fixation, focused around the idea of creating the perfect still life. These immersive works captivate with their elaborate compositions, characterized by their colour-blocked flat planes, encouraging the viewers to embark on an entrancing journey into a stylised world.
Kristof Santy in Conversation
What inspired the works in this exhibition?
I have recently gotten in the flow of painting still lives. These paintings match the body of work I made last year and I enjoyed making them so much that, at the moment, it’s become a little obsession of mine to make the perfect still life. That is currently the main focus of my practice.
WHAT IS YOUR PROCESS LIKE WHEN CREATING A NEW WORK? DO YOU EVER WORK FROM MEMORY OR PREPARE PREPARATORY DRAWINGS?
I usually make preliminary studies, but the final painting always turns out completely different from the drawings that have been made. And that's completely okay! I also paint over many of my works. If the composition doesn't work, I don't mind just painting over it again and again.
ARE YOUR WORKS RIGOROUSLY PLANNED, OR DO YOU ALLOW ROOM FOR IMPROVISATION?
Nothing in my work is pre-planned. When I am painting, I am in the moment and completely follow my gut, as the most important thing is that I enjoy the process of making each piece.
What would you say was the key to finding your artistic style?
It all started with the discovery of works by Jean Brusselmans. The stylistic approach of the subjects felt so pure. It definitely served as an inspiration for my own artistic approach. Also, being locked up in my studio during the lockdowns allowed me the space and time to be super focused. I had nothing to do but really focus on my craft.
What are some of the things that shaped who you are as an artist?
Finding beauty in the everyday life and pleasure in the little things like; visiting museums, reading books, collecting things I find in flea markets, long talks with my artist friends, and enjoying my home.
Have you ever gone through a period of not painting?
Yes, when I was renovating my studio...anyone who has ever dealt with renovations will understand the struggle.
Is there anything you wouldn’t paint?
I believe every subject is paintable. Except for my wife, it never works out!
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Born in 1987, Kristof Santy is a Roeselare based painter who is inspired by folk tales and customs. He presents figurative work based on mythological stories and stylized still lives, naively approaching observations from his immediate environment. He refers to artists such as Philip Guston, Jean Brusselmans, Domenico Gnoli and Konrad Klapheck, but also immerses himself in popular prints by anonymous artists. In 2021, Santy had a debuting solo exhibition titled 'Nijverheid' with Thomas Serruys Gallery, in Bruges, Belgium.
CHOSEN CHARITY: 'De Trompet' A project by vzw Onze Kinderen
Since 1945, VZW Onze Kinderen has continuously worked on a differentiation of forms of assistance for children and young adults. ‘De Trompet’ is a non-profit programme designed to help improve the living situation for children suffering difficulties at home, as well as families struggling with educational complications. In consultation with the young people and their families, the organization provides tutors who create a tailor-made program that is focused around each child’s emotional and physical strengths and needs; providing them with a safe space to turn to after school and during the holidays.
‘In 2018, De Trompet was looking for someone to create a new nameplate on the facade of the house, someone who can do something creative and different. That is how we met Kristof Santy. Whilst we showed him around the building and explained our work he showed great interest in what we do, fascinated by the stories of the children and families that we work with. The nameplate has represented the perception of our families for several years now. Thanks Kristof, we are so grateful for the continuous support!’