M+B is pleased to present Home Sweet Home, an exhibition of new works by Kristof Santy. This is the artist’s first solo show with the gallery. The exhibition will run through January 7, 2023. Kristof Santy’s stylized paintings of interiors, still lifes, landscapes, gastronomy, and folklore elevate the everyday domestic into the venerated. Always in reverence of his subjects, he captures them in detailed, vividly color-blocked compositions with his trademark flatness. By focusing on the subject, rather than narrative, he creates a sympathetic portrait that anthropomorphizes the otherwise commonplace. In humanizing his subject, a bond is formed between the painting and viewer that stirs feelings of nostalgia and the comfort of home.
Santy’s works often pull reference images from a 1960s French housekeeping book, a bible of mid-century French domesticity, which details everything from radiators to how best to set a dinner table. From these, he develops loose block-prints to give an underlying pattern to his painting process. Using intricate overpainting, Santy lets the canvas and scene speak to him, continuously altering and adjusting until the scene is painted as perfectly as a French supper – equally rustic and elegant.
The paintings purposely never have a narrative and often lack the appearance of people. Throughout the series, Santy often gives hints of the human presence and touch, without ever actually seeing them. In Facade, a poodle’s leash trails off canvas without the owner ever being present on the canvas. In Lotion, a gentle drop of cream dangles from the bottle, but the hand remains unseen. In the portraits, Robert and Susan, are not portraits in the traditional sense, but portraits of two characters from the board game Guess Who. Even each Sleutel (“key” in Dutch) is a unique character in his great ensemble. Santy’s uncanny ability to render inanimate objects human, the ordinary extraordinary, through color and form, brings each canvas to life in wholly unexpected ways.