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All In The Family: Art with The Santos Siblings

Coming from a family of artists, Carina, Luis Antonio, and Isabel Santos opted to shift their
attention away from the art scene. However, in time, they would discover that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

All of us grew up around art, but all of us tried to not be involved in art. We all took a detour but ended up down the same path,” Carina Santos candidly discloses. While studying publishing at university, she took up graphic design and began to deepen her knowledge in art history. “That’s what piqued my interest,” she shares. Her mellow personality and soft-spoken tone match her aesthetic. Carina goes for what she describes as “very quiet and calm” art pieces. To her, art is a way into a person’s psyche. A platform for her to release any internal struggles and deep thoughts. “I use [art] as a way to relax. If I feel very tumultuous, or I’m going through something, this is how I take my mind off it. I either unload by making something, or I use it to distract myself.” For the longest time, Carina made use of watercolor, graphite, and oil. At present, the young artist experiments with castings, books, and even soundscapes or musical scoring.



Luis Antonio Santos is a visual artist focusing primarily on paintings. Among his siblings, Luis describes himself to be more shy and awkward. Just like Carina, Luis developed an appreciation for painting later on in life. After graduating with a degree in business management, Luis began to take an interest in art as a whole. “It was a gradual change. I started to paint out of curiosity, then began meeting people from the art community, and it snowballed from there.” His artistic direction focuses on the idea of memory, time, and space. The interaction of the three, and the reality he visualizes through this lens appear in most of his pieces. Known for a hyperrealist, monochromatic scheme, Luis sees his art as a summary of “the different abstract ideas you want to manifest in some way.” Luis’ design process starts on a sketchpad, where he notes simple words or phrases that inspire him. Other times, he takes photos, listens to music, or sees a film.


Very much like her sister, Isabel Santos sees her work as an extension of herself. “As an artist, I’m very insecure. So if someone doesn’t like it, I think it’s a reflection of how they feel about me, though I know that isn’t true.” Isabel enjoyed art as a child, though never truly pursued it. “I kind of didn’t want to be that typical daughter or grand-daughter of an artist.” On a trip to Europe, she instantly grew connected and inspired by the vast collection of art pieces at the many museums she had visited. Working with “layers,” Isabel makes use of multiple canvases at one time: “If I hit a roadblock with one, I can leave it for a while and move to another. When I go back, there’s a fresh perspective.” Her taste and style depend on her current state of mind or overall mood. “Sometimes it can be really abstract. Sometimes it’s realistic. When you work on different shows, sometimes you want to do something different.”

The Santos siblings diverted their talents toward different career paths—a far cry from parents Soler and Mona Santos, and grandfather Maestro Mauro “Malang” Santos’ craft. In their own time, they found themselves coming back to art. It runs deep in their veins. It has an uncontrollable pull. 


1. Carina Santos


Carina Santos reveals that her most memorable work would be a large composition she had painted in London, on a sheet almost as tall as her, and which she titled, “ e Sea is a Sea of Grief.” “I was creating it in when I wasn’t really in the best place of my life. It also reminds me of how connected I think I am to my process.” Her latest showing will be at Art Fair in February. Audiences can expect oil landscaping and a ip book she and her sister, Isabel, are designing. Carina is also working on another project with West Gallery to be unveiled this November




Art books 

“I usually refer to small publications like this toinspire me. I take inspiration from the materialityof books.”


Camera and phone

“I incorporate a lot of photography in my work. I use these for everything and for reference.”


Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

“This is my favorite book. It’s very well-written!”

Portable watercolor palette

“I usually use old tins to carry some watercolor. In case I get bored and I think of something I want to put on paper.”


“I like keeping sketchbooks. I usually have to have some type of notebook or paper to write stuff down.”



“I am kind of a scatterbrain! Basically if I don’t write it down,I forget it!”


2. Luis Antonio Santos


Luis Santos brings up his show at Silverlens in 2018 as his most memorable project. “It was a piece that was about six by 24 feet. A series of four paintings on corrugated GI sheets. ey are mirror images facing each other. On one side, it’s the actual sheet that looks distorted. e other is painted with the idea of representation.” is untitled design is from a series of works called “Structures.” Audiences can catch his latest showing at Art Fair in February, a continu- ation of his previous collection.





“I use it to take photos of my paintings and work.”


Paint brushes

“It’s my main tool for my craft.”



Turpentine container

“This is for thinning paint. I also use this to clean my brushes.”



3. Isabel Santos


Isabel Santos admits that she is still trying to gure out her personality within the art scene. Out of her body of work, she shares that her most memorable art piece would be from her show, “Should I Remember You?” Her largest was made two years ago, and got much appreciation and respect from fellow artists she looks up to—something she says she will never forget. At present, Isabel is working on her Art Fair exhibit launching this February, as well as another showing at Blank Gallery in May.





Roger Federer signed photo

“Tennis and Federer inspire me. I’m not really an emotional person, but when I see him play, I ball up. It was a dream of mine to watch him play before he retires, and I got to do it!”




Paint and towel

“This is a necessity for all my works.”



Paint brushes

“I keep a set of broken paintbrushes because, when Benny was little, these were the items he could reach and would chew on. I think for a future project, I want to collect and paint all the things he’s ruined!”



Dogs Noah and Benny

“Noah has been with me for six years, and Benny for two years. They inspire me to have a regular day and a routine. They just make my vibe happier!”


This article was originally published in Metro Society February 2019 issue.


Photographs by Cholo Dela Vega / Makeup and Grooming by Claire Diokno / Hair by Rick Diokno / Shot on location at Nest