Many of the tricks I expose in The Santi’s Workshop have an ethnological basis. Very ethnological, I would venture to point out, is the content of trompe l’oeils, since the models of life in which I am inspired are collected from my most immediate urban and rural environment. They are usually objects, that sometimes sought and others found, are within my reach, in the nearby environment. And they are for me now a reason for reflection on the current economy and sustainability, the circular economy, recycling, etc. In other words, what we have put before ourselves with the sustainable development goals (O.D.S., 2015 United Nations)

Ethnology and crafts

The objects that I seek and pursue are with a point of nostalgia. I have always admired the artisanal production of many objects that, currently and since the industrial revolution, have been replaced by mass production. Starting with the objects I have painted in trompe l’oeil like “Things of grandfather”, going through the gadgets and homemade resources, and continuing with the pots and dishes that I represent in some other trompe l’oeil of kitchen recipes. And in ceramics, basketry, wood and glass crafts, I have found references and inspiration.

Many of these artisan products aesthetically outperform their improved industrial prototypes, perhaps the latter more effective. But the same cannot be said for its durability. Artisan products were always “made” thoroughly. With knowledge and experience of the use of the object to be manufactured. To this we must add that its intrinsic “quality”, that is, the nobility of the materials, and its “tempo” of manufacturing were prioritized. This, the union of a first-class raw material and meticulous manufacturing, in turn resulted in a more artistic aesthetic due to the specificity of its production. The quality of the genre mattered more than the quantity. And this is something that has come to radically change manufacturing and industrial design. Until even the arrival of the paradigm of programmed obsolescence.

Ethnology and economics in the trompe l'oeil "El colmado"

The trompe l’oeil “El colmado”

Thge ethnology and the economic

The sustainable and the circular economy, which sounds so much today, takes us back to the way many artisans work. As well as the recycling of materials and resources to their maximum advantage. The raw material was not only previously selected, it was also classified according to quality and according to the use it would be given in each case. There was thus a certain specialization also in this aspect of material use. All these subtleties are lost in mass production. In many cases, you end up using an amalgam of the same raw material for all kinds of categories. And that is when it is not replaced by a substitute that allows with its use in manufacturing greater competition in the sale price.

Everything was used from the ash tree, from the pig to the tail. In the long existence of a single tree, before being cut down for charcoal, firewood or functional furniture, it found its branches for tool sticks, accessories and much, much fodder. The awareness of using all the materials was deeply rooted and put in value any raw material, avoiding waste. The attitude of taking advantage and recycling, so much in vogue today, was then custom. On the contrary, and curiously, “vintage” fashion was caught by surprise in the rural world, where at first it was not understood that common tools and fixtures would be revalued for their use and custom.

A circular economy

The guilds then fed back, giving rise to an economy very similar to what we currently call a circular economy. The service unions, sharpeners, painters, masons, etc., were equipped with material and tools from small manufacturers and artisans according to their specialty. And in turn, the latter were supplied with raw material from local farms and cooperatives. The designation of origin was taken for granted. The commercial relations network was “loyalty” at the regional and regional levels, and any foreign adventure had a local mattress.

Ethnology in the trompe l'oeil "The barber's self"

Ethnology in the trompe l’oeil “The barber’s self”

Ethnology, uses and customs

Many of our olders do not understand the precariousness of industrial products. And this is because they have lived a time where manufactured products were with a very extensive use guarantee. Things were made to last a long time of use. In most cases, any tool ceased to be “a tool” to be “the tool of”. With the name and surname of who had used it for a long professional period. Ethnology is the reflection of the uses and customs of a certain time

The worker made himself to his tool and vice versa. In addition to rigorous maintenance, the tool was improved for use by the owner worker. Even with ergonomic changes, adapting the tool to the particular and specific use of the user / owner, and not just for their personal taste. We currently call this customizing work tools. In many cases also, as they were repairable, the same operator was in charge of fixing and solving the problems that the tool could give in a breakdown. What better doctor than the user and connoisseur of your tool for so long. That is called recycling today.

It wants to be my work in the trompe l’oeils of El Atelier de Santi indicated, a tribute to the laborious artisan production of times past, and still in many cases, ceramics, joinery, basketry, etc. They are products that are very close to serial artistic work, since their elaboration requires a previous reflection and approach, but inside a traditional methodology.

Fragment of the trompe l'oeil "The Velázquez's cupboard"

Fragment of the trompe l’oeil “The Velázquez’s cupboard”


For more information;

“Trompe-l’oeils” and watercolors exhibition, review