He Puts Together Weirdly Beautiful Bedfellows

Morgan Santander, a native of Mexico who now lives in Marshall, was brought up and educated on three continents. In his dynastic paintings, worlds make a slow and sensuous collision. Photo by Rimas Zailskas

The Large Hadron is the most powerful particle collider in the world. “Just for fun,” says Morgan Santander, “imagine dumping random s**t from an entire museum collection in there … and pressing ‘Go.’” That’s the multimedia artist’s own take on his current body of work, Beyond Reconstitution, begun in 2005. It’s a fun, rowdy description — but the result is way more resonant. Lingering and moody.

Beyond Reconstitution presently comprises 600 collages, along with drawings, oil paintings, digital prints, small sculptural works, a short animated film, and two books. “The process,” explains Morgan, “begins with days at the library, mining for interesting visual resources.” He makes copies of images that interest him and uses those black-and-white copies to build collages. Once he completes the collages, he scans, digitizes, and prints them. He then uses these digital images as reference material for large paintings.


“I often like my process to be non-predictable and complex,” says Morgan in a demonstration of artistic understatement. Beyond Reconstitution’s lush oils evoke vibrant baroque tapestries, Renaissance dramas. We see roiling nightmare colors from the Dutch Masters, hushed voodoo rituals, corrupt royal courts laid bare, and other interesting bedfellows.

Morgan moved to Madison County in 2013, where he rented a 600-square-foot studio in Marshall High Studios on Blannahassett Island in the ancient French Broad River. Its location in an old high school fits the artist who enjoys dividing his time between easel and classroom. Morgan is an Adjunct Professor of Art and Art History at both Warren Wilson College and Blue Ridge Community College, and for 12 years was Professor of Graduate and Undergraduate Painting at Savannah College of Art and Design.

Untitled (Beyond Reconstitution, Book 1)

His father was a Mexican playwright, director, and actor. “He was well traveled and knew a great deal about art and culture,” says Morgan. Indeed, his own imagery speaks to the viewer straight from the furthest reaches of dark poetry. “I think the exposure I got from my father — specifically to the theater, to film, and to literature — became paramount to my creative development.”

Morgan Santander, 115 Blanahassett Island, Studio 203, Marshall. For details, call 912-660-0831 or visit morgansantander.com. Santander’s work is on dis-play at Flow Gallery, 14 S. Main St., Marshall. For details, call 828-649-1686 or visit flowmarshall.com.

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