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Metamorphosis

Scream London Gallery, London 23.03.2012 - 21.04.12
‘Metamorphosis’ consists of two bodies of work, each displaying a vivid collection of images that convey the story of ‘Leda and the Swan’ and the old folk verse The Magpie’s Rhyme.

The subject of ‘Leda and the Swan’ has been addressed by many artists before, including the great Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. W.B Yeat’s 1923 poem ‘Leda and the Swan’ is another example of how this mythological story captured the imagination. The intriguing myth of Zeus transforming into a swan and raping the human Leda, which produces the fatal beauty Helen of Troy is both violent, sensual and captivating. Whereas Leonardo and Michelangelo treated the subject with tenderness, with an emphasis on the ethereal and fecund beauty of Leda and the virility of Zeus as the swan; the imagery acts as a metaphor for the origins and manifestations of life, with subtle religious connotations of the Holy Spirit. In contrast, Santini’s imagery is lascivious, fantastical, contemporary and secular. The figures appear against a theatrical black background, highlighting the lustful, entangled figures. The shocking exploit of Leda is dramatically enhanced by the use of the Lenticular medium, where the image moves before the viewer’s eyes. Santini’s Leda appears equally dominated and dominating, possessing the female eroticism often seen in the work of Helmut Newton or Guy Bourdin. Santini’s stylistic treatment directly communicates the violence and seduction of the story, with the brutality and beauty literally coming to life.

The second series is based on the old folk rhyme that is superstiously said to predict the future. Each work, named “One for Sorrow”, “Two for Joy” etc. portrays a mysterious group of characters, each inhabiting a peculiar otherworldy realm, reminiscent of Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking-Glass”. Through the lenticular medium these characters come to life, creating a sequence of enigmatic moving images that culminate in the group portrait “Seven For A Secret Never To Be Told”. These quirky, fantastical characters transform into dancing Magpies that inhabit a dream-like world, one that Carroll’s ‘Alice’ would perhaps have encountered. Carroll believed that humans are capable of psychic states and Santini’s surreal interpretation of the predictive Magpie’s Rhyme is a unique extension of this idea.This exhibition clearly demonstrates Santini’s gift as a story-teller, as the stories of Leda and the Swan and the Magpie’s Rhyme “offer a way of imagining alternatives, mapping possibilities and exciting hope.” [Marina Warner]