“Few artists are so clearly dedicated to the exploration of one intricate but overarching theme throughout their practice. In the case of Santiago Montoya, that continuous preoccupation has been with value: how do things – from precious objects to pieces of paper – acquire or accrue valuation?”
- José Luis Falconi*
At first sight, the visual impact of Santiago Montoya’s epic work is a vibration of colour, abstraction, meticulous detail and immaculate arrangements that dazzle the viewer. It is only upon close inspection that the artist’s medium is revealed - infinite rows of global bank notes that are methodically and meditatively aligned. In addition to currencies, Montoya’s practice incorporates precious stones, materials and objects to express a multitude of ideas exploring the notion of value. The works generate a discourse on nationalism, commodities and the universal consequences of the production and distribution of wealth.
The viewer is immediately absorbed by the painstaking labour involved to create these vistas of colour and pattern, often punctuated by arresting texts. The seductive colour palette and imagery belies the more unsettling issues that Montoya highlights and questions. Beyond the aesthetic impact, Montoya implicitly investigates the fundamental fabric of our society, and its systems and hierarchies that are the framework for the world we inhabit. This body of work questions the multi-faceted and multi-layered relationship that we have with global financial systems. Montoya transforms and transcends this ubiquitous medium into extraordinary works of art that challenge and seduce. The dreams and delusions of wealth and power are simultaneously conveyed in monumental works that capture the complexities of our time.
“''Leave it, then, to a clever artist like Montoya to explore the shell game that encompasses representations of representations of value for both art and high finance. His new work provides a blistering commentary on the near complete financialization of just about everything under the sun—including politics, culture, our dearest national myths and, as we have just seen, art itself.''
- Christian Viveros Faune - Contemporary art curator & writer, based in New York
*José Luis Falconi - Post-doctoral fellow, History of Art department, Harvard University, USA
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Born in 1974 in Bogotá, Colombia, Santiago Montoya lives and works in Miami, USA.
Montoya’s practice has been dedicated to the exploration of notions of value, nationalism, commodities and the universal consequences and nuances of the production and distribution of wealth. Initially a painter, an inspired digression was to incorporate the actual raw materials in his work – global currencies, gold, silver, copper and other precious materials – exposing the gulf between official state ideologies and reality itself. Montoya captures the collective consciousness, questioning the systems of power and shining a light on the disparities, injustices, and the absurd. Montoya’s works combine a wry humour and acute insight on a global subject that affects us all, and the inherent systems and structures that we live by.
Recent exhibitions include a solo exhibition ‘Bitter Sweet’ at the Somerville Museum in Massachusetts, USA; ‘Trust’, Context Art Miami with Offshoot Arts; ‘Elsewhere(s)’ at Untitled Art Fair, curated by José Luis Falconi and Estrellita Brodsky, Miami; ‘Seeds of Resistance’ at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum in Michigan, USA and Art Museum of the Americas, Washington D.C. Montoya’s work is highly collected in both public and private collections, including MFA Boston, Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Massachusetts, Dell Children’s Medical Centre, Austin, TX; AMA Washington D.C, Jill & Peter Kraus, and Estrellita & Daniel Brodsky, amongst others.