Santiago Montoya

Colombian, b. 1974

Santiago Montoya lives and works in Miami, USA. Montoya’s practice employs diverse media, including global paper currencies, precious stones and materials, sculpture and neon. This multi- disciplinary approach expresses a multitude of ideas exploring the notion of value. The works generate a discourse on nationalism, commodities and the universal consequences and nuances of the production and distribution of wealth. Montoya’s works combine a wry humour and acute insight on a global subject that affects us all, and the inherent systems and structures that we live by.

Montoya was born on 11 September 1974 in Bogotá, the second of three children in an enterprising family; besides running a cacao plantation, his father has worked variously as a racing driver, pilot, ship’s captain and fisherman. In 1983, the family fulfilled a long-held dream of moving to Old Providence Island in the Caribbean, where they lived until 1985. Montoya had been painting from around the age of eight, and at 10 he began classes with a local artist. Experimenting with different techniques, he developed a personal drawing style and started using watercolours, reflecting the vivid hues of his remote Caribbean setting. Montoya often travelled with Colombia’s national BMX team and took the opportunity to visit major international museums. By the age of 12 he was already aspiring to be like Pablo Picasso and become an artist.

After completing high school in Bogotá in 1993, Montoya undertook a mandatory year of military service and then enrolled for a Master of Fine Arts degree course at the Universidad de Los Andes, Bogotá (1995–2000). There he studied with the painter Luis Roldán and received training in a range of disciplines, from video to sculpture. Admiring the directness of Picasso’s artistic approach and strongly influenced by both Abstract Expressionism and Francisco Goya’s overwhelming black paintings, he set out to explore the language of composition and colour. In 1999 he took part in group exhibitions in Colombia and Germany and held his first solo show, Camila. Following graduation, Montoya ventured on an epic journey to Ushuaia, at the southern tip of Argentina, and visited Antarctica. In 2001 he got married.

Montoya’s first major sequence of works was the Target series (2003), a set of paintings of circles based on geometric abstraction – for him, ‘Colour and form achieving a perfect communion ... like a mathematical progression’. His next project continued the quest for new formal possibilities. A chance viewing of an exhibition in New York introduced him to the work of the American Conceptual sculptor Tom Friedman, who showed Montoya that there was room in art for many of his ideas. Influenced by the American’s subtle humour and use of ready-mades, Montoya began to incorporate found materials into his own work. The resulting Digital File series (2004–2007) is a collection of square compositions constructed from previously painted old canvases, referencing modern methods of storing information. This expansion of the traditional medium of painting provided a fresh resource for structuring and visually articulating his thoughts.

During a second trip, undertaken with his wife in 2004 to 2005, Montoya explored large tracts of south-eastern Africa, driving some 29,000 kilometres and recording the experience in four video and photographic documentaries, News from Africa (2008). His intention was to draw viewers into a dialogue or personal encounter with the complex reality of this little-known area. The irony of some of the photographic titles – Excess Baggage, Diamonds are Forever – suggests a wry but compassionate interpretation of some of the continent’s challenges.

Montoya turned next to cash money as a theme. The Great Swindle (2007–2012) looks at paper money as a platform of political propaganda, exploiting iconic pictures to bolster power and embed imagery in the national consciousness. The series journeys through history exploring iconography and idealism across a cultural spectrum, from model planes and boats inspired by Communist China’s food coupons of the 1950s and 1960s to portraits of fallen dictators. On a formal level, Montoya perfects his fabrication process, using artworks meticulously constructed of banknotes as aesthetic representations of his research and keen observation.

Forgive Me Father, For I Have Painted (2011) is a series of paintbrushes and tubes of acrylic enclosed in clear resin, which responds to contemporary art’s fascination with new media, often at the expense of classical painting techniques. For although Montoya acknowledges the importance of investigating novel approaches, since college days he has been convinced that painting is an enduring and expressive medium both for representation and for conveying ideas.

In 2006 Montoya was shortlisted for the IV Uniandinos (Alumni Association of the University of Los Andes) Arts Prize, awarded by the Galería Espacio Alterno, Bogotá. He has exhibited widely in Colombia and in Venezuela, Mexico, Panama, the United States, Korea, Spain, France, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Greece, Romania, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland, presenting the solo shows News from Africa at Arte Consultores in Bogotá (2008) and The Great Swindle at the B-146 Gallery in Zürich (2009). Group shows include Formarte, organised by the Fundación Corazón Verde, Bogotá (2009), the Tina b. Contemporary Art Festival, Prague (2009), Inner Journeys at Maison Particulière in Brussels (2013) and Conscienta: Latin American Consciousness at the Lloyds Club in London (2014).

His first solo exhibition in London, The Great Swindle, opened in November in 2012 at Halcyon Gallery. Improbable Landscapes, the artist’s second solo show at the gallery, launched his series of large tapestries in June 2014, followed in the autumn by Tally Sticks Project, a large site-specific installation created by Montoya for presentation in the main gallery. In October 2015, Halcyon Gallery presented Unfinished Business, which saw Montoya continue to develop his dialogue spotlighting society’s contemporaneous relationships with money and the economy at large. From October 2016 to March 2017, The Great Swindle is reprised as a major institutional show curated by Dr Jose Luis Falconi at the Art Museum of the Americas – OAS in Washington D.C. On 9 January 2017, Surfin’ USA opened in London as Santiago Montoya’s sixth solo exhibition at the Halcyon gallery. From October to December 2017, Missteps (and Other Paths), was held at Espacio El Dorado, Bogota, Colombia. This seminal exhibition curated by Dr José Luis Falconi questioned and reflected on the still intact promise of the Colombian national project.

Montoya’s works have been exhibited at many art fairs: MAC21 International Contemporary Art Fair, Marbella, Spain (2003); the 5th International Art Fair, Zürich (2003); the International Biennial of Contemporary Art, Florence (2003); ArtBo Art Fair, Bogotá (2006–2011); the Latin-American Art Fair (FIA), Caracas (2008); SCOPE Basel, Switzerland (2009–2010); the Korea International Art Fair (KIAF), Seoul (2010); PINTA Art Show, London (2010–2011 and 2014); Arteaméricas, Miami, Florida (2011); Foro Sur, Cáceres, Spain (2011); Houston Fine Art Fair, Texas (2011); PINTA Art Show, New York (2011); Art Stage, Singapore (2013); and Bienal del sur en Panamá, Panama City (2013). His works are held in international public and private collections including the Embassy of Colombia in London, the Museum of Fine Art in Boston and the Art Museum of the Americas (AMA) – OAS, Washington D.C. as well as in the permanent collection of Colby College Museum of Art.

Recent exhibitions include solo exhibitions at the Somerville Museum in Massachusetts, USA and DRCIAS at Harvard, Massachusetts, USA; 'Trust', Context Art Miami 2021; ‘Elsewhere(s)’ at Untitled Art Fair, curated by José Luis Falconi and Estrellita Brodsky, Miami; ‘Seeds of Resistance’ at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum in Michigan, USA and Art Museum of the Americas, Washington D.C. Montoya’s work is highly collected in both public and private collections, including MFA Boston, AMA Washington D.C, Rose Art Museum MA, USA, Dell Children's Medical Centre, TX, USA, Jill & Peter Kraus, and Estrellita & Daniel Brodsky, amongst others.

‘History has always fascinated me’, observes Montoya. ‘The psychological approach to history is always of great interest to me: how our behaviour is different depending on the context we live in. How we behave and respond to the world that surrounds us, and the world that others have created, transformed or destroyed.’


2000 MA Fine Arts, Universidad de Los Andes, Bogotá, Columbia

2024 Against the Clock, Dumbarton Oaks Museum, Washington D.C, USA
2022 Let's Do The Number, Context Art Miami, Miami, USA
2022 Se Va el Caiman, David Rockefellar Center for Latin American Studies, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
2022 The Orginal's Inn, Sommervile Museum, Sommerville, Massachusetts
2021 Santiago Montoya - Quinine Dissecting Series, Context Art Miami, Miami, Florida
2019 (Fool's) Gold Digging, Solo Project with Espacio El Dorado, UNTITLED Art Fair, Miami, Florida
2018 If So What? Art Fair, San Francisco, California
2017 Mal Paso (y Otros Senderos), Espacio El Dorado, Bogotá, Columbia
2017 Surfin' USA, Halcyon Gallery, London, United Kingdom
2016-2017 The Great Swindle, AMA | Art Museum of the Americas, OAS Washington D.C, USA
2016 Money Talks, Halcyon Gallery, London, United Kingdom
2015 Unfinished Business, Halcyon Gallery, London, United Kingdom 
2015 Embassy of Colombia, London, United Kingdom 
2014 Tally Sticks Project, Halcyon Gallery, London, United Kingdom 
2014 Improbable Landscapes, Halcyon Gallery, London, United Kingdom
2012 The Great Swindle, Halcyon Gallery, London, United Kingdom 
2009 The Great Swindle, B-146 Gallery, Zürich, Switzerland
2008 News from Africa, Arte Consultores, Bogotá, Columbia 
2002 Circle, 108 Fine Art, Miami, Florida
2001 Recent Works, Arte Consultores, Bogotá, Columbia 
1999 Camila, Galería Espacio, Bogotá, Columbia 

2023 Infidels, Halcyon Gallery, London,  United Kingdom 
2023 El Dorado, The American Society, New York, New York 
2023 El Dorado, Fundación Proa, Buenos Aires, Argentina
2021 Soft Focus, Halcyon Gallery, London, United Kingdom 
2021 Elsewhere(s), curated by Estrellita Brodsky & Jose Falconi, Untitled Art Fair, Miami, Florida 
2020 Seeds of Resistance, Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, East Lansing, Michigan 
2020 US NOW, Halcyon Gallery, London, United Kingdom
2018 Comfortably Numb: A Critical Investigation into the Culture of Drugs and Narcotics, Another Space, New York, New York 
2018 Dulce Tumaco: Una Mirada Desde el Arte y las Historias Locales, Espacio Flora, Bogotá, Columbia 
2018 El Tiempo Del Fin, ICPNA (Peruvian North American Cultural Institute), Lima, Peru 
2017 Pelé: Art Life Football, National Football Museum, Manchester, United Kingdom 
2017 Origins, Colby Art Museum, Waterville, Maine 
2016 Summer Exhibition, Halcyon Gallery, London, United Kingdom 
2015 Pelé: Art, Life, Football, Halcyon Gallery, London, United Kingdom 
2015 Repeat to Change, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts
2015 The Art of Creating, Halcyon Gallery, London, United Kingdom 
2014 Conscientia: Latin American Consciousness , Lloyds Club, London, United Kingdom 
2013 Iconic: Warhol, Montoya, Perucchetti, Halcyon Gallery, London, United Kingdom 
2013 Innner Journeys, Maison Particulière, Brussels, Belgium
2011 Solemn, Arte Consultores, Bogotá, Columbia 
2009 Tina b. [This Is Not Another Biennial] Contemporary Art Festival, Prague, Czech Republic 
2009 Formarte, Fundación Corazón Verde, Bogotá, Columbia 
2008 Art Exchange, B-146 Gallery, Zürich, Switzerland
2008 Certain Things, True Things, Arte Consultores, Bogotá, Columbia 
2008 Sintonizar, Galería Entrearte, Bogotá, Columbia 
2008 El Totazo, Galería Casa Cuadrada, Bogotá, Colombia
2008 Colombian Art, Arte Consultores, Bogotá, Colombia
2008 Crosscurrents, Contemporary Paintings, Luz Botero Fine Arts, Panama City, Panama
2008 Cuestión de Corazón, Galería El Museo, Bogotá, Columbia 
2008 Documentan, Galería Casa Cuadrada, Bogotá, Columbia 
2007 Documentan, Galería Casa Cuadrada, Bogotá, Columbia 
2007 Te, Arte Consultores, Bogotá, Columbia 
2007 Equus Arte, Fundación Corazón Verde, Bogotá, Columbia 
2007 The New Colombian Painting, Tseretelli Gallery, Moscow, Russia
2007 Popular Pop, Galería Entrearte, Bogotá, Columbia 
2007 Diversity, VI National Art Salon, Galería Casa Cuadrada, Bogotá, Columbia 
2006 Recent Works, Galería Casa Cuadrada, Bogotá, Columbia 
2004 Pintura Fresca, Cámara de Comercio de Bogotá, Columbia 
2004 The New Colombian Painting, Parc de l'Orangerie, Strasbourg, France
2004 Animarte, Fundación Corazón Verde, Bogotá, Columbia 
2003 Solidarte, Galería El Museo, Bogotá, Columbia 
2003 Navidarte, Museum of Modern Art, Bogotá, Columbia 
2003 Group Exhibition, Kleiner Prinz Gallery, Baden-Baden, Germany
2003 Mixed Exhibition, Contemporary Art Gallery ‘Am Tunnel’, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
2003 The New Colombian Painting, Colombian Embassy, Warsaw, Poland
2003 The New Colombian Painting, Penderecki Museum, Warsaw, Poland
2003 Grands et Jeunes d'Aujourd'hui, Espace Auteuil, Paris, France 
2003 Young Painters, Galería El Museo, Bogotá, Columbia 
2003 Recent Works Abstractions, Galería Proyecta, Bogotá, Columbia 
2003 Grupo Arte, Bogotá, Columbia 
2003 Aliento, United Nations High Commission for Refugees, Bogotá, Columbia
2002 In Centimetres, Galería El Museo, Bogotá, Columbia 
2002 The New Colombian Painting, Etaj 3/4 Gallery, Bucharest, Romania
2002 The New Colombian Painting, Constanta Museum of Art, Constanta, Romania
2002 The New Colombian Painting, Municipality of Athens Cultural Centre, Athens, Greece 
2002 The New Colombian Painting, Szombathely Art Gallery, Szombathely, Hungary
2002 Galería Casa Cuadrada, Zürich, Switzerland
2002 Color, Arte Consultores, Bogotá, Columbia 
2001 Arborizarte, Fundación Corazón Verde, Bogotá, Columbia 
2001 Admirarte, Galería Casa Cuadrada, Bogotá, Columbia 
2001 The New Colombian Painting, UNESCO, Paris, France 
2001 Four New Artists, Galería Casa Cuadrada, Bogotá, Columbia 
2000 Santiago Montoya, Arte Consultores, Bogotá, Colombia
2000 Alternatives in Process, Galería El Museo, Bogotá, Columbia 
2000 Figure and Colour, Galería Fenalco, Bogotá, Columbia 
1999 Colombian Worlds, Frankfurt, Germany
1999 Casa de Risaralda, Bogotá, Columbia 
1999 Galería Casa Cuadrada, Bogotá, Columbia 

2006 Shortlisted for IV Uniandinos (Alumni Association of the University of Los Andes) Arts Prize, Galería Espacio Alterno, Bogotá

Espacio El Dorado, Bogota, Columbia
Rose Art Museum, Massachusetts, USA
Brandeis University, Massachusetts, USA
Dell Children's Medical Centre, Texas, USA
Jill & Peter Kraus Collection
Estrellita & Daniel Brodsky Collection
Hugo Quinto Collection, Guatemala
Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, ME
AMA|Art Museum of the Americas, OAS, Washington, D.C.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Embassy of Colombia, London
The Farm Group Collection, London
Shikumen Capital Collection, Hong Kong
Universidad de los Andes Art Collection, Bogotá, Colombia

2015 Pelé: Art, Life, Football exhibition catalogue with essays: Brian Winter, ‘Why Pelé Still Inspires Us’; Dr. Bernard Vere, ‘Andy Warhol, Pelé, and the ‘Athletes’ Series’ (Halcyon Gallery)
2014 The Great Swindle, exhibition catalogue with essays: José Luis Falconi, ‘To Pay the Bill with Bills (or How to Keep Cash Flowing)’; Robin Greeley, ‘Follow the Money’; Christian Viveros-Fauné, ‘Santiago Montoya’s The Great Swindle, A History’; Justine Ludwig, ‘Currency Faith, An interview with Santiago Montoya’; José Luis Falconi, ‘Money Talk(s), An Interview with Miguel Palacios on Finance and Fiction (or the Fiction of Finance)’ (Halcyon Gallery)
2014 Improbable Landscapes, exhibition catalogue with essays: José Luis Falconi, ‘Financial Sublime(s)’; José Luis Falconi ‘Perfect Storm(s)’; Beatriz Esguerra ‘Forgive Me Father For I have Painted’ (Halcyon Gallery)
2008 News from Africa, exhibition catalogue with texts by the artist (1000 Voltios)
2002 Abstractions, exhibition catalogue with Foreword by Germán Rubiano Caballero (Art Editions)
2001 The New Colombian Painting: an Itinerant Exhibition, exhibition catalogue with Foreword by Eduardo Serrano (Colombian Ministry of Culture)

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