This week’s Studio Sunday artist is Curtis “Talwst” Santiago. Santiago is originally from Vancouver, BC, where he originally began making his artworks as a diversion from his music career. The artist has become known for his sculptural dioramas built inside of ring boxes, often depicting complex, multi-figure scenes and tableaux.
Santiago’s studio has the look of a hobby space -- the artist could easily be painting a miniature for a tabletop game, or another type of model. In some ways, Santiago’s tiny dioramas are reminiscent in execution of the works of Bodys Isek Kingelez, though while Kingelez focused on hopeful visions of the future, Santiago tends to explore and dissect more topical subject matter.
There’s something meditative about seeing the artist at work like this. Even though the space looks very messy and chaotic, Santiago’s focus appears complete. The artist’s ring box pieces contain a painstaking amount of detail, and I can imagine the artist hunched over a desk by lamplight, sculpting even the tiniest blades of grass in a lush miniature garden.
Outside of his dioramas, Santiago also produces artwork on a larger scale. The artist’s paintings blend abstract planes of colour with movement-focused figurative painting, and a recent series of sculptures contrasts traditional signifiers of African identity with Western historical ideals.