TEXTOS | Rubén Cherny

A serious smile


Is it possible that a critical view of the cultural and financial environment in which we are immersed and which defines us support an emotional connection with the observer and is even able to steal a smile from him?


Ruben Santurian’s works of art convey a relaxing playfulness and informality, but also fiercely display an area where awareness lies. He does this through a language that exhibits the overwhelming universe of consumption and by seducing the observer through his friendly tone. But there is more.


Designer, architect, businessman, Santurian’s creations spring from the inexorable basis of any intellectual work: the commercial space where we all reside. His work goes beyond each specific piece of art, his work is the reflection of a political affiliation that comes back, consistently repeats itself, insists, opposes. His is a thought process under construction, a way of adding pieces to a big anomalous structure, chunks of a search in permanent development.


Architecture is that progressive and intimate train of thought. Architecture is that point of departure, meeting, and arrival. The culture of communications should be more accurate each time: instantaneous, direct, fast, but also progressively more overloaded with messages, with abundant and superfluous signals, excessively minimalist, all of which arouse a “truth under construction”. An effective device that accelerates the flow and the human movements, messages aimed at results in a world ruled by the permanent desire to maximize benefits. Consumption is the paradigm of all kinds of social interaction. This includes all kinds of interpersonal relationships,  like friendship or love. Architecture is no longer authentic. Rather, we are left with its representation.

Santurian describes the breakdown, the waste, the saturation, the instant obsolescence, the implicit  commands that live in an “inventions paradise”. This is architecture nowadays. He shows us that in his role of building a huge social hypermarket, the flow of conductivity materializes through a boxed esthetic, through interchangeable modules for an unnecessary versatility. A paradise made up of neutral spaces that lack mystery, spaces that are transparent, geometric, used for advertising purposes, spaces of great legibility, thirsty support of “reality”.


We are in prescence of a moving train and it seems impossible to get off if not  only to miss the train. A leap forward that does not accept looking back to see everything we have left behind. We are fully aware of this. What’s more, we have accepted it. But there seems to be some hope in this “Red Fury” discourseor maybe this is what we want to see. In spite of all circumstances, architecture feeds a will to last. There are a few examples - that is true - but they are enough to support the idea of a discipline that opposes the permanent need to remain current.


Santurian explains, gives examples. Suddenly he is close to what happens on the street, talks about people’s lives. A little toy wearing a construction worker hat seems to be telling us that there are other shapes for reality other than our apparent order. Things simply happen when two people look at each other. Kids know better than adults when they talk to things.

Ruben Santurian invites us to gain an awareness of the fact that we are alone, first person plural. He proposes an individual way of thinking so as to comprehend that the empty space, the existing hole between the experience of living a normal life at this time on this planet, and the public discourse that we are all imbued in - that is offered to give sense to that life - is huge. Between the stage and the world, between the performance and life, between dramatization and suffering, there is grief. People get lost they have a miserable life, go crazy in this void overflowing with waste as they dream about a virtual reality. They would do anything - provided they can make that void disappear.


We could imagine for a moment that suddenly Santurian’s material and substantial world - the pipes, the bottles, the cars, the cartons, the tin, the yoga elbows, but also the rain that waters them, the birds that overflow them, the wind, the melons and the tomatoes that are inside the refrigerators at the “Chaotic Tower”, the termites and the cockroaches, and also the dogs, the mold, the water, the mothers, the dentists, the grocers, the cats - all revolted against the never-ending current of images that lie about the world. The current that imprisons the world.


We could imagine that it would react and restore life beyond grammatical, digital, pictorial, television, sports, abrasive manipulation. We could imagine that they would come up with abundance without petrifying the soul. We could imagine a rebellion against everything that is represented.


But not everything revolves around what Santurian wants to show us. Every artistic project  springs from an internal need, as well as an act of generosity. This is a personal, intense path along which the artist uncovers and discovers his emotions and feelings. An instant in time when we feel free and feel scared because we are viewing our own inner world filled with infinite things: father, mother, neighborhood, kids, affairs, illusions, loneliness. Through his art Ruben Santurian invites us to share a moment to make a pause and get to know his inner world.


It has been said that artists drive the world through unknown paths and makes it rave. The quality of Santurian’s work relies in his language - not processed for consumption, without any ornaments and non-commercial. A language in which the creative aspect cannot be detached from the every day life, from the way we see and hear. A language with a purposeful closeness and intelligently critical, a language that opposes the acceleration of emotions that identifies the logic of large superstores. A language that invites its audience to reflect, to rethink. This language opposes stupidity, idiotic conformism and the assumption that life itself is an object for sale. An object for sale that demands an audience. It is not a consumer nor a mere ghost. A subject.


Kafka claimed that we should not waste our time with works of art that don’t drive in like an ax. Ruben Santurian’s art is an ax that prompts a serious smile. The faint light in the eyes and the grin on the face of the victim is what power cannot endure. That smile is an artist’s contribution to the world today.

Rubén Cherny
Diciembre ‘07