FPC senior Brandon Santiago is captivating his audience through paintings that present a vibrant and expressive style while simultaneously staying true to his Puerto Rican and Jamaican heritage. This deep connection between culture and craftsmanship sets January’s Artist of the Month apart from the other students previously featured.
Although Santiago’s multicultural background exposed him to different experiences and cultures, his main influence for painting was his personal discovery of Jean-Michel Basquiat.
“His (Basquiat’s) artwork sparked my artistic interest, especially in painting. I developed my skills by studying/painting expressionism, abstraction and impressionism with JJ Graham of Salvo Art,” Santiago explained. He added that listening to different types of music such as reggae, jazz, and hip-hop/rap influence his artwork as well.
His first mentioned piece is named Flay and was created using acrylic paint and acrylic polymer medium, much like his other pieces. Santiago said, “This is a layered acrylic painting that depicts a human figure with a combination of bright, warm colors and neutrals to give it a busy feeling.”
Flay is the counterpart to an artwork that he made called X-RAY because the figure pictured has no skin or bones. Flay has flesh and organs instead. X-RAY is mainly influenced by Basquiat’s Neo-Expressionist art style, but Santiago also focused on anatomy due to his father’s medical occupation.
The last featured piece is titled Captivation, and is focused on portraying the feeling of being captivated; in this case, by the woman’s beauty and color. Santiago used an array of subtle colors for the sky and the background, and a mixture of strong and bright colors for the figure of the woman. The Japanese text to the left of the figure translates to: Captivation.
In terms of Santiago’s improvement, his art teacher, Mrs. Chelsea Schlaffer, said, “Brandon has really grown as an artist since he first started in my class three years ago. His signature style is vibrant and expressive while showing a deep connection to his heritage. He has really taken to painting and it’s been fun to see his confidence, style, and technique evolve into something very exciting. I am really thrilled about what he will continue to create in his future.”
After high school, Santiago plans to attend the University of South Florida St. Petersburg (USFSP). By enrolling in USFSP’s Graphic Design program Santiago will be able to learn more about visual expression and its uses. This will aid in furthering his artistic abilities.
Congratulations Brandon, keep up the great work!