Tano Santoro, the painter originally from Naso always looking for new chromatic balances

Photo of author

By John

Tano Santoro he is thirsty, a healthy thirsty person. The Sicilian painter, born in 1940, born in Naso, in his bright studio Milan, in the vitalism of the Chinatown of the Lombardy capital, expresses every day his inexhaustible thirst for creativity, of the desire to always go beyond that visual limit he has just reached. His painting is expressed with jagged signs in the continuous search for new chromatic balances, but also for the relationship between sign and space, we could say of voids and fullness.

His initial realism (we’re talking about when he left Sicily in his twenties in the footsteps of Tono Zancanaro and Giuseppe Mottiknown in Capo d’Orlando, then home to a prestigious prize for the figurative arts), over the years it has become something that has increasingly distanced itself from reality which appears to our eyes to make what is inside us become an image and which does not belong to our sense of sight, but to something that has much more to do with what we call mind and spirit.

It is an unelaborate elaboration of nature (the contradiction is only apparent), a thought that becomes matter without however having a true form, a dream that is more real than ever: it has the ability to contain thesis and antithesis and to demonstrate both, proposing to us a nature that is more abstract than ever, but which we end up recognizing as such, in its essence.

It happens because in its densely reticular path, on the canvas even the smallest sign becomes decisive while even the single drop of material reminds us of our rough daily life, and the color – never bright and never dull – moves further and further away from Mediterranean tones and yet at the same time contains them. The ridge on which Santoro makes his ever new painting walk is incredibly narrow, in this last period devoid of traces of human presence; it is the thought that fluctuates and invites us to enter this expansive vortex that belongs to us, especially if we do not give in too much to the “all ready” that the digital world prepares for us more and more every day.

Thinking about it, it is a lifeboat that Santoro offers us with his art: the strong reminder of our human abilities, those that seem hidden to us and which can instead be amplified by creativity and imagination. «My works – he tells me – propose a nothing that contains everything». He breaks everything down, goes in search of the origin (I have already called him a painter-philosopher) and doesn’t stop even when he seems to have found it, pilot and explorer of a becoming with an eternal pace. A tormented and at the same time happy search because it fully expresses the artist’s desire not to self-reproduce (for many painters a professional convenience), but to always be one step ahead of himself.

Santoro is notoriously highly regarded also in the field of engravings, where his confident style is capable of large, perfectly balanced patterns, as well as small, finely “occupied” spaces. His etchings, but also aquatints and drypoints, echo ancient and modern themes, taken up with hints of figuration that make them an original and characteristic corpus, despite the different starting points. Here the human figures take shapes that have never been completed, even when they might seem perfectly outlined. It could be the head that is sort of unfinished, or even the feet that fade away before reaching the ground. Often in the past these figures have appeared in his paintings, now we have to imagine them and, seen up close in the meditation of his home-studio, they complete each other to the point of creating a world which, although linked to the artist’s vision, we end up recognizing as our.