Show Preview | Dave Santillanes

Denver, CO
Abend Gallery, September 4-26

Dave Santillanes, Lighting the Way (Study), oil, 12 x 16.

Dave Santillanes, Lighting the Way (Study), oil, 12 x 16.

This story was featured in the September 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art September 2015 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!

Abend Gallery gives viewers a glimpse of the intimacy to be found in the Rocky Mountain region’s grand landscapes this month with a display of new oil paintings by Dave Santillanes. “Expansive canyons, hazy snowstorms, crashing waves, wide-open valleys, and rolling rivers are all on display in this wide-ranging exhibition, all beautifully rendered by Dave Santillanes’ skillful hand,” says David Ethridge, co-curator at Abend. “This is, without a doubt, one of the most impressive landscape exhibitions of the year.”

Santillanes’ first one-person show at Abend opens on Friday, September 4, with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. and remains on view through September 26. The collection consists of an impressive 40 new works in a variety of sizes, from small plein-air pieces to large-scale studio canvases, encompassing the breadth of his work and giving viewers a window into his process. Always a plein-air painter, Santillanes has recently begun to broaden his creative reach by developing his compact, onsite works into more monumental expressions of the subject matter. This exhibition marks the gallery debut for these major pieces.

Santillanes’ latest body of work features scenes from a recent float trip through the Grand Canyon, as well as vistas from across his home state of Colorado, including several in Rocky Mountain National Park. A lifelong outdoorsman and nature lover, the artist says painting landscapes was “a natural evolution” for him. He thrives on working in the elements and often hikes for miles into the rocky wilderness with his paints and his camera in search of compelling subject matter. “Being outdoors is invaluable,” he explains, and immersing himself in the scenery is a vital component of his overall approach to painting. He fervently believes that forming a connection with his surroundings allows him to best communicate to viewers the experience of being present in the landscape.

Santillanes paints robust naturalistic forms with lively, impressionistic brushwork, infusing life and energy into the mountains, water, clouds, and trees that populate his work. His precise and arduous preliminary process when constructing a large-scale painting consists of fieldwork, sketching, photographing, and structuring the composition before brush ever touches canvas. He explains, however, that this strict methodology affords him a certain confidence and freedom when he does begin painting. The resulting compositions offer a fresh blend of rich hues and effervescent light that harness the whole of nature’s majesty atop a two-dimensional surface. “I’m looking to capture color and light,” he remarks, “and I use light to design each painting.”

In the end, Santillanes strives to communicate both the “vastness and intimacy” of the landscape—to impart a sense of comfort and familiarity amid mammoth surroundings. “Dave is a master at capturing a sense of place in his work,” remarks Abend co-curator Connor Serr. “His paintings are emotive without drifting into sentimentality; they are frequently epic in scope without being overblown. The atmosphere and feeling that he portrays in each of his works is second to none.” —Elizabeth L. Delaney

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Featured in the September 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
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