Sally Santana & Søren Arildsen: The Night Swarms In Silk
United by their shared interest in the materiality of light and the mystery of nocturnal environments, Sally Santana (b. 1997, Denmark) and Søren Arildsen (b. 1996, Denmark) combine their artistic practices for THE NIGHT SWARMS IN SILK”). Both exhibiting paintings, alongside a performance by Santana and sculpture by Arildsen, this collaboration feels like an immersive sensory world, full of potent symbolism and seductive illusions. Shapes and colours morph fluidly throughout like a slippery dream filled with pareidolia (the human tendency to see faces or other familiar formations when looking at random shapes).
Constantly exploring how material form might be given to our experience of extra-sensory phenomena, Sally Santana’s canvasses flicker and bend with vibrant colour and magnetic light. Ambiguous and suggestive of spirituality, these paintings show blazing planetary bodies, flashes of lightning and dancing human figures, all shrouded in a glistening abstract haze. These are powerful and immediate images that touch something hyper-rational in the mind and sensitive and receptive within our nervous system. They point to something beyond our current civilisation, something transcendent and seemingly infinite in duration and scale.
Søren Arildsen’s paintings in NATTEN SVÆRMER I SILKE channel a sense of the sublime towards a different effect. At times within Arildsen’s painterly universe, large-scale butterflies hover above the horizon, almost eclipsing the sun like gods in insect form. Floating above a ground that looks softly charged, these beings seem to herald some kind of aesthetic transformation - from our current material conditions to an elevated plane of enhanced light and sensation. Arildsen uses these winged creatures along with more ordinary images of a helmet and a partially nude figure to evoke an intense yearning for the arrival of some kind of different and distorted reality.
This willingness to instigate a sense of disruption is an important point of conversation between both artists’ work. In Santana’s provocative performance as much as in her dynamic painted images, strangeness is used as a strategy to challenge both our social and visual expectations. This extends to the composition of Santana’s canvases which often incorporate additional stitching and extra fabric sections to literalise the sensory rift that is suggested by their motifs.
Søren Arildsen also incorporates particularly haptic and tactile moments into his sculptural work to amplify the effect of uncanny beauty that they transmit. In Night Light Ceremony / Passage to the Eclipse (2021), two ceramic columns covered in glistening thorn-like tentacles extend to a height well above six feet. Subtly reaching upwards and outwards towards the viewer’s body, this work (like the rest of the works in the exhibition) seems to suggest that through the right combination of synchronised stimulations we might reach a new and nocturnal understanding of our place in the world. And then the ceremony will be complete.
Sally Santana (b. 1997) is a Danish artist living in the Netherlands, where she is currently completing her MFA at Gerrit Rietveld Academie. Her work is multi-faceted and incorporates a wide variety of media including: painting, sculpture, performance and glassblowing. Santana's works often grapple with concepts of metaphysics and she is interested to give visual life, not only to those things that can be observed, but also to hidden processes and beings.
Søren Arildsen (b. 1996) is a Danish painter based in Copenhagen, currently studying for their BFA at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. Working mostly with painting, drawing and ceramics, Arildsen tends to favour a figurative visual language to explore ideas of digital distortion and how glitch aesthetics can be used to defamiliarise our sense of environment and expected behaviour.