Every time someone sees the owl that Santi tattooed on my right arm, they ask me two questions: Is it new? And, Who did it?
After I tell them it’s a couple of years old and that the artist is a self taught Argentinian illustrator called Santiago Rubino, they all seem to have the same bewildered expression on their faces, while their jaw muscles begin to slowly move to let one word come out of their mouth: Wow!
This is exactly the word that comes to my mind when I see Santi’s drawings. The lines that give shape to his hot, dark haired, mysterious goddesses, and to their bizarre, dreamlike settings are so perfect, so precise, that sometimes I ask myself: What the f–k is wrong with this guy?
Santi was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1979, and came to Miami when he was 10. He is one of those shy, calm, introspective dudes who doesn’t speak much, but who is so genuinely nice and talented, that you’ll want to go out of your way to try to get to know him better.
Santi is obsessed with work. Obsessed with drawing. When I talked to him in his studio in Little Haiti, he mentioned he didn’t have much in it because he doesn’t really need a designated space to work in…”I take my sketchbook with me all the time, so I can draw wherever and whenever I want,” he said.
He is also obsessed with Egypt, the Renaissance period, sacred geometry, and nature in general. All of which he uses as references to create timeless pieces that he doesn’t like to refer to as surreal because he thinks the word is misused nowadays, but which definitely make you think about the photographic precision, juxtapositions, and the illogical/anachronic scenes of such works.
CD: What’s your background?
SR: I’m from Buenos Aires, Argentina.
CD: That’s how you started with art?
SR: Yeah, some friends from high school introduced me to graffiti when I was 15, and it evolved from graffiti to fine art. It was a transition, it didn’t happen over night.
CD: What was your style back then?
SR: I was doing a lot of graffiti, and at the same time I was also making figurative drawings, but not the way I’m doing them now. I was experimenting with different styles.
I was making drawings of Napoleon Bonaparte, Generals and French revolution era. I was studying fine art on my own, a lot of the masters—Da Vinci, Rembrandt, Hieronymus Bosch, also I was highly influenced by comic books and Anime.
CD: Why did you like doing graffiti?
SR: What I love about graffiti is that there are no limits. You can go out on the street and express yourself. In the fine art world you’re too limited.
If you’re a graffiti artist you can go anywhere and put your mark out there on people’s faces and nobody has control over that.
Through graffiti I was fortunate enough to have met my art dealer Anthony Spinello and some of my closest friends.
CD: Why did you drift away from graffiti?
SR: I wouldn’t say I fully drifted away from it because I feel like some of my work still has some graffiti elements but times have changed and my style has grown. I realized It was time to evolve in to something timeless.
I drifted away from traditional lettering when I was 23 because I wanted to do something that all people could connect with.
I wanted to do art that wasn’t about me, but more about me putting an idea out for the world to absorb and make it their own
CD: How did your art start changing?
SR: when I became more conscious of how the world functions and understanding nature, my perspective changed and my interest drifted more
towards what the world is really about. So I started making art that questions the humanity, history, nature & sacred geometry.
CD: And so you started creating your own world… what can you tell me about it?
The world I create in my head and project through my drawings is inspired by nature, science and the mysteries of the universe.
CD: Can you talk to me about Stella Octangula?
SR: At one point in my life I was living in downtown Fort Lauderdale across the street from the main public library, an Amazing building designed by Marcel Breuer. One of my favorite architects, he is well known for having designed the Whitney Museum in New York. I would go to this library every day and browse the thousands of books they have, the building is so inspiring that when you are there you get a certain kind of energy that it feels like your in another era, almost like a Stanley Kubrick movie. This building sparked the inspiration for Stella Octangula. I made this drawing during the times I was going to the library and added elements of the architecture on the drawing.
CD: What do you think about when you are drawing?
SR: I question everything. I always wonder what this matrix is all about.
CD: What are you working on right now?
SR: working on large pieces, murals, commissions and preparing for my next show, which will be soon at Spinello.
*Santiago is represented by Spinello Gallery. He’s had Solo shows in Miami, New York, and Los Angeles, and his work has also been exhibited in Chicago, Mexico, and Toronto.
Follow him on Instagram
WORDS BY Camila Alvarez