Chris Santa Maria



Chris Santa Maria’s portraits appear from a distance to be perhaps photographs of painstakingly made and colored mannequins or figurines. The gaze of the subject comes flatly at the viewer without expression, only the lines made on the face from a lifetime of laughing or scowling giving a hint of expression. In contrast, the eyes are almost too alive, like glass orbs on dolls or the bright stare of Byzantine portraits. Up close, the illusion comes apart as tubes of oil paint stippled in little waves are seen to make up a surface that stands almost half an inch away from the surrounding raw canvas under clear varnish. The flesh is rendered in fat impasto, with a myriad of hues combined to portray what we often think of as beige or brown.

Scott Andrews, Hearsight (2008)