Roseta Santiago captures pulse-quickening beauty and then transcends it with layers of meaning outside the boundaries of time.
Among the greatest joys of art lovers is the discovery of artists who have mastered their medium, who honor their subjects with meticulous attention to both documentary fidelity and interpretive originality, and who reward the viewer with carefully considered content underlying sheer visual splendor in every painting they exhibit. Such is the joy awaiting visitors to second sight..a show featuring new works by Roseta Santiago at Giacobbe-Fritz Fine Art. Technically impeccable, intellectually and emotionally deep and satisfying, her paintings have the qualities that make them rare finds not just today, but in all likelihood, far into the future.
Roseta Santiago uses sight, hearing, feeling, memory, intuition, and understanding throughout her eloquent and disciplined creative process. Her accomplishments in design include large-scale exhibits and graphics, and theme restaurants and nightclubs from concept through build out. After completing a multi-year commission to paint 22 life-size, regionally accurate wildlife murals for Bass Pro Stores, Santiago moved to Santa Fe and has concentrated on recognizing what she calls “uncommon common things” and telling their stories in her paintings. Santiago collects objects with inherent beauty and an interesting past. She treasures these things that come to her studio in interesting ways, considering them repositories of human history and emotion—life’s physical echoes. Roseta learns the history of an object, and then helps it tell its own story, on linen stages she sets and illuminates with a cinematographer’s eye and sensibility. Santiago’s soft edges cause her objects to vibrate, not against, but with the richly atmospheric environments in which she places them. When she hardens an edge, it creates a stereoscopically deep three-dimensionality, another emotional amplifier. Santiago paints still life, landscape, and western genre, all with far-reaching evocative potency. “The Thief of Hearts” is Santiago’s portrait of an antique Chinese ceramic vase glazed with the image of a non-Asian man sitting on a dock, playing a mandolin. In “A Bowl of Secrets,” perfumed smoke swirls gracefully, arising from and enveloping an old brass incense burner with intrigue and mystery. Santiago paints from a world view of optimism and love. She tells the stories of dreams, secrets, and things that counsel a return to beauty. A sumptuous new book, Santiago, Conversations in Paint Language, celebrates this painter’s combination of realism and abstraction, the language she uses, the scope of her storytelling and the tendency of her paintings to open doors and windows in the hearts and souls of a growing, highly appreciative audience.
Review by Wolfgang Mabry
Conversations in Paint Language: The Art of Roseta Santiago by Bob Saar, is out-of-print but available on for resale on Amazon.