Santiago Montoya at Halcyon Gallery
Santiago Montoya’s third exhibition at the Halcyon Gallery, Unfinished Business, seeks to explore his “never-ending thoughts on money and value”. Apart from the fact that banknotes are pre-made blocks of colours and pictures lending themselves to the creation of infinite patterns, Montoya is fascinated by their status as symbols of the immeasurable power of economy. He likens economy’s role in the world to that of nature: a mysterious force whose condition people are at the mercy of.
By mixing currencies and by making the leaders depicted on them the focus of attention, or writing slogans on the banknotes, Montoya makes indirect statements about the manipulation of the masses. He also uses money as an emblem for the socio-political loose ends that are still haunting some parts of the world. In one of his works, US flag, he recreates the infamous stars and stripes using paper currencies from Cuba, Mexico and Macedonia- countries whose relations with the US are notoriously unstable. In Elephant and Castle, he juxtaposes Burmese banknotes against British £50 notes, drawing attention to the link between Britain and its former colony, which was broken in 1948.
In Montoya’s view, the financial world is a mass of unfinished business where political ideologies are passed on subliminally as the money circulates. Visually striking in their simplicity, from afar, most of the works appear as plain, hypnotising combinations of colourful stripes. A closer look, however, will reveal the banknotes, their origin, and thus the possible statement or question being raised. The effect of the repetitive patterns and the ironic use of one of the most common objects in use lends the exhibition a pop art feel. Beyond the aesthetic aspect, Unfinished Business presents money as a tool that can offer a historical account of social affairs and chronicle the journey of political propaganda in any given country. Fresh and thought-provoking, Montoya’s work opens up the possibility of debate around the subject of power and the psychology of money.
Santiago Montoya is at Halcyon Gallery from 21st October until 7th November 2015, for further information visit here.