Vitor Dos Santos, a bilingual artist who travelled throughout his childhood, uses an ecclectic mix of materials often on plywood – charcoal, graphite, pencil, newspaper and acrylic paint. The artist imaginitively explores a disenchanted popular mass culture by provoking questions about language, travel, communication and social hierarchies.
Dos Santos was a Brett Whiteley Travelling Scholarship finalist in 2008.
A peek into the studio reveals much about the artist and his latest body of work. Panels are stacked, crammed around the spare wall space, paint is haphazardly splashed around, quotes and phrases, photographs and images are stuck randomly over the walls and sketchbooks busting with ideas crowd the shelves. There is a bottle or two lying around…just outside the studio is the biggest barrel of binder emulsion you have ever seen, and a surfboard!
The artist grew up on Sydney’s southern beaches after migrating from Portugal at a young age. Dos Santos’s recent travels overseas, particularly to his birth place of Portugal have inspired this body of work and they form a personal narrative of the negotiation of being “in-between places”. Dos Santos’s paintings reveal fragments out of context, like a conversation overheard accidentally. Lists and lists of familiar and sometimes fantastical items are written over layers that reveal and conceal what lies beneath. An illustrative and haptic style of imagery hints toward the act of painting as an analytical exercise, and his choice of images seem to become personal motifs, repeated for emphasis…a narrative that can’t quite be placed, but somehow seems familiar. The characters that reoccur as protagonists or unlikely heroes…are reminiscent of the trickster or fool that appears in various cultural mythologies. There is wisdom in the innocence of these characters that both appeal and repel…some are floating heads, looking like they need anchoring lest they float away out of the frame into unknown lands. Dos Santos’s works describe a multi-layered view of the world, constructed, deconstructed and reconstructed again in the search for a sense of place, with the remarkable ability to embark on the journey without actually knowing the destination. * extract by Joanna Kambourian, Lecturer Art/Design, Southern Cross University, NSW
Vitor explains his practice: “Through an almost compulsive drawing process I was able to generate ideas and follow certain narratives, which led me to the absurdity of these paintings. Burst word bubbles, floating letters and clumsy figures with strange hats, subtly mock their own existence. The loose line work, rapid application of paint and childlike irreverence to formal etiquette only adds to the ironic disposition of the work.”