Three Interpretations of Jorge Santa’s “Hunters”

THE magazine | THE magazine - May 2, 2014

THE magazine asked a clinical psychologist and two people who love art to share their take on the oil-and-acrylic painting on canvas by Jorge Santa entitled "Hunters" (courtesy EVOKE Contemporary, Santa Fe). They were shown only the image and were given no other information.

Emotional conflict is embedded in this work. At first glance, the scene appears bright and lively but close inspection shows the painting is actually somber in tone. No one, human or animal, makes eye contact with each other or with the viewer. Psychologically, such detachment suggests depression. Another example of contrast appears in the use of motion. While the river is fl owing and the fire is blazing, the people and animals are frozen. Likewise, the characters’ clothing is restrictive (i.e., helmets, a leather corset, a coiled rope around the right seated woman). Stillness and constriction symbolize repression and add to the work’s dark emotional tone. On the left, a redskirted woman tugs at a rope. She pulls the man on the tree like a puppet, controlling his fate and desires. Like the restraining leather corset he wears, she dominates him. Which girl will he pursue? Will he fall down? Only she decides. Perhaps the artist is suggesting that while men may be the center of attention, women are really in charge. Lastly, the clothing is a mixture of medieval garb with motorcycle boots. Oh, the timeless power struggles between the sexes. — DAVIS BRIMBERG, PH.D., CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST

This surreal, highly stylized, allegorical scene entails a lush green forest with a sparkling, pristine body of water. There are four people, all of whom are slightly gender-neutral. One woman has a look of post-orgasmic awe. She tenderly caresses a tree while a squirrel stands calmly on her back. The tree is clearly symbolic of life, strength, and redemption. Her eyes are closed. In fact, all four people in the scene seem to have their eyes closed softly. One person is in the tree looking down on the woman. This person is reaching, reminiscent of Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam, practically touching the woman while wearing a fetishized corset. Attached to the corset is a rope. Another person, who is also reaching for the woman showing reverence to the tree, is at the other end of the rope. The last person is off to the side of the frame with a solemn expression. She is surrounded by rope that is attached to nothing or no one. Maybe she also tried for the woman whom everyone desires and failed? Next to her is a dog staring at you, the viewer, with a look of confusion. I find this piece to be cheeky and humorous with its ambiguities and peculiarities, regardless of its potentially sinister undertones. — NATASHA RIBEIRO, GALLERY COORDINATOR, SANTA FE CLAY

This riparian scene is a modern allegory, reminiscent of Botticelli’s Primavera, but steeped in trickery and mischief. Upon first glance everything seems rather idyllic, but given a closer look the image gains a more sinister feel. Is there some strange game of sexual deviancy afoot? On the left side a young man in armor is hoisted up a tree with a rope by a woman who is almost hidden from sight. Her face, shadowed and distorted, is the most sinister aspect of the painting, despite the woman’s smile. They attempt to lure a seemingly sleeping girl and the squirrel on her back with an acorn. Bondage plays a role; the same rope is used to bind the kneeling girl on the right. Her clothes look like they were once a sail, as if she was washed ashore, while everyone else seems to be in somewhat modern garb. The tree also plays a large role; it gives the girl on the right shade, the mischievous couple with the rope cover, while providing comfort to the sleeping girl. The bound girl and her dog are almost removed from whatever trickery is happening to her right. Her dog looks directly at the viewer as if to the only person aware of the entire scene, almost appealing for intervention. — NICOLE BROUILLETTE, WRITER, ART LOVER