Contemplating the Divine
~ Written by Nina
This 37cm x 86cm painting done over an ink & scratch medium with plastered cardboard was created by obscure surrealist, illustrator and avant-garde artist – Santiago Caruso in 2011. The images depict a dark and rather unknown villain from Isidore Ducasse’s long forgotten novel, Les Chants de Maldoror written back in 1868. It illustrates Maldoror clutching his head in agony at the scene in his mind above where an “Angel of Flesh” balances the living embodiment of Good and Evil within his hands as his flayed skin forms magnificent wings, yearning to take flight above the watery abyss below. Above this mental struggle we see God and his angelic counterparts holding his eyes shut so as not to behold the scene below.
I have chosen to review this specific piece of art as I believe it represents an age-old struggle that humanity has always been forced to endure, the Dance with the Divine. Our never-ending quest to absolve ourselves from our mortal coils and to touch the Eternal but alas, just as the snake slithered into Eden, so does sin seep into our souls.
Caruso used varying shades of gold and scarlet to represent the supernatural entities, he uses many different symbols throughout the painting which can be interpreted in numerous ways by the viewer. The sword reaching from the heavens reminds me much of the sentiment “double-edged sword” and closely resembles the classic crucifix, religion is much like this. What is right for one individual is wrong for another, one man’s truth is another man’s idea of blasphemy. In today’s modern age we have access to so many choices and knowledge sources that it starts to become impossible for some to pursue a path of religion without encountering a degree or more of doubt. This painting speaks to my inner struggle and provides a calmness of mind, that I am not alone in questioning the Divine and seeking the absolute truth. I think this painting echoes what we all feel deep down inside. Uncertainty.
The artist makes use of a 19th century style of symbolism in most of his work, this piece was created for an independent Spanish publisher called Editorial Valdemar intended as a cover for Ducasse’s novel. Among this he has also created album illustrations for some notable American and European bands such as Nailed to Obscurity and Selvans. His work is featured prominently in museums all over the world in locations such as Buenos Aires, Mexico, Spain and the USA. Discover his work and follow his latest creations on the following websites; Santiago Instagram or Santiago on DeviantArt.