Painter blends classical and contemporary

August 30, 2023 BY

Mother and daughter: Filipiniana is a self-portrait Marikit Santiago painted in partnership with her seven-year-old child Maella Santiago Pearl. Image: SUPPLIED

WESTERN Sydney painter Marikit Santiago is bringing a collection of works to Bendigo Art Gallery for her first-ever Victorian solo exhibition.

The kingdom, the power is set to highlight Santiago’s Filipina-Australian experience, her ancestry, and perspective on motherhood, religion, and gender.

The exhibition has been curated by Lauren Ellis and will run from Saturday 28 October to Sunday 4 February.

“In monumental allegorical paintings and exquisite votive-like studies, Santiago casts her own family in richly symbolic and dramatic scenes,” Ellis said.

“Weaving together the iconography of the western art canon and pop culture references, Santiago appropriates biblical narratives and contemporary media to confront personal history and universal themes of transgression, liberation, and reclamation, with tenderness and courage.

“The title of the exhibition references a phrase spoken by the congregation during Catholic mass, which praises God as creator of earth and humankind.

“In The kingdom, the power, Santiago considers the privileges and obligations of the ‘Eden’ created for her by her parents, who migrated to Australia in the 1980s, and in turn, the world she is constructing for her own children.”

Ellis described Santiago’s figurative painting style as one which straddles the contemporary and classical art worlds.

“She blends luscious oil paint and gold leaf with humble found materials, such as cardboard boxes and texta,” she said.

“Her three young children appear not only as cherished subjects in her paintings, but as her artistic collaborators, contributing ever-changing marks within Santiago’s polished figuration.”

Santiago has been a finalist in the Archibald Prize three times and won the 2020 Sulman Prize.