In 1982, Santos moved to the United States. It was here that his work evolved beyond drawing. His illusory, dreamlike images that hint at bizarre secrets leapt from the drawing board to the full realization of paint and canvas.
Figures are frequently fragmented, boxed within rooms, cardboard containers, or trompe l’oeil frames. An unusual icon will repeat itself with humorous frequency: a fish, a plane, a train… His characters seem alienated, odd, socially awkward and disconnected; disconnected also from their backgrounds by texture and technique. The overall impact of the work is disturbing and yet endearingly funny.
While one could spend hours psychoanalyzing Santos’ imagery, perhaps the best path to understanding his work is of that of a master set designer who creates an emotional landscape and populates it with characters to be animated in the imaginations of his viewers. Santos sets the stage and creates the cast, but each individual who sees the work writes his or her own internal play, making Santos’ work a unique, almost interactive, experience.