Alaia De Santis

“When I grow up, I want to be an archaeologist”, I used to say. I longed to spend my life unearthing old treasures. However, an archaeologist must preserve their findings as relics of an old life, trapped in a replica era in the Natural History Museum. An artist reserves the right to continue the life of these found objects; or at the very least I do.

I’ve always been an explorer, so I let that guide my practice. I find starting a new piece like a personal treasure hunt. I find inspiration in the stories attached to objects, and through my art, propose the next chapter.
In my latest chapter, I have endeavored to portray psychological states such as anxiety and anger, alongside the sensation of being in limbo.

In dreams one can encounter shadows that feel like embodiments of mental states and attitudes that the ego forces you to repress in day-to-day life – Karl Jung calls this the ‘shadow self’.

In my work I try to portray the stages of meeting the shadow self. It often enters my paintwork, whether in physical of abstract form. For that reason, my paintings allow me to convey a sense of myself that I cannot in person.

I find empty spaces and objects also harbor ghosts, which I try to portray through the use of abstract, liquid forms. Like shadows in dreams often make light of one’s state of mind, the shapes I create combine the objects and places I encounter in my lived experience with the ramblings of my subconscious.

As a young artist I try to keep an open mind to all media and artist’s tools. In my practice books, clay, herbs, and paint are all media for making art.

I am also enchanted by stories of the past, particularly the ones that live on until now – old wives’ tales. Folklore, witchcraft, and herbal medicines also appear in my work. Underlying each of these themes I find a tension between preservation and transformation. Every effort to preserve an ancient myth inevitably transforms the thing itself. An archaeologist might not appreciate this school of thought, but I’m an artist.



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