Santiago Cárdenas (b. 1937) is not a painter of everyday objects, as is often said about him; those objects are merely an excuse to put trickery into physical form. The main theme of his painting is trickery [trompe l’œil] and not the objects represented in the painting. What he aims to do is fool the eye, and the reason for doing it, according to Cárdenas, is the need to “create an art that can be assimilated with no need for explanation. An art that does not compete with other art, but rather with nature, an art that enters through the senses.” Perhaps that statement arose from the fact that the artist perceived contemporary painting as too “esoteric.” Trickery, through illusion, is thus a premise that underlies most of his artwork and that leads the viewing public to take an active role in his work. This document clarifies the premise that was the basis of most of the artwork rendered by this artist in the late 1960s to early 1970s. Most of this work was created while the artist continued to develop his complex relationship with the concept of space in painting.
Santiago Cárdenas studied Fine Arts at Yale University (New Haven, 1962–64). During this period, the artist was in contact with major figures in the world of international art, including Alex Katz, Frank Stella, Richard Serra and Janet Fish.