In Paintings, Sculptures, and Assemblages, a Filipino Artist Explores the Space Between Two Points

  • Image courtesy of A3.

    Image courtesy of A3.

Whether you’re a tourist navigating a foreign city or a commuter trying to skirt a traffic jam, we’re all accustomed to mapping out routes between A and B. In his new show, “Distance between two points” at A3 gallery in Berlin, the Filipino artist José Santos III explores that space between two places.

On maps, roads are conventionally depicted in linear form. In Santos’ newest works, however, those lines appear in different shapes and sizes across various mediums, including paintings, prints, sculptures, and assemblages of found objects.

High Road (2016), for instance, consists of 200 resin casts arranged in a long line of objects that looks like ruins you might discover on a trip to Peru or China. Likewise, in his paintings, Santos shapes his canvases into line-like forms, slender and elongated. He arranges the panels into a connected series that reads like a timeline as viewers pass from one side of the installation to the other.

  • Image courtesy of A3.

    Image courtesy of A3.

Two lengthy canvases, Passing through A and Passing through B, also evoke lines and the journey between two points. In fact, their impressive length requires the viewer to travel from one end to the other. And then there’s the subject matter itself, rich with abstract shapes as well as familiar imagery—segments of walls, gates, partly demolished houses, and abandoned vehicles. Passing by these paintings—taking in the view, as it were—is not unlike driving through an urban locale, perhaps in the artist’s native Manila. The scene shifts and changes as you walk by. Some elements approach from the distance; others recede behind you. Some things you’ll remember; others you’ll forget.

But there’s no prescribed route—no signposts—for experiencing Santos’ new exhibition. You could walk one way, then reverse directions, or you could stand still and view a work straight on, only considering it from one point of view. It’s up to us, as viewers and travelers, to choose our own paths through his mysterious scenes and cityscapes.

A walk through “Distance between two points” indeed feels like a sort of travelogue, which, in a way, is an exercise in memory. It’s difficult to remember any journey exactly as it happened or the precise feelings you had at any given moment. Over time, your perspective changes, the story is edited, as the journey fades into the distance.


—Bridget Gleeson


José Santos III: Distance between two points” is on view at A3, Berlin, Apr. 30–Jul. 30, 2016.

See more artists from Arndt on Artsy.