At first glance, these images of ornately patterned carpets look like photographs; however, a closer look reveals they’re actually rendered in oil paint. Created by the incredibly talented, Madrid-born, New York-based artist Antonio Santin, these hyperrealistic works are described as “figurative paintings”—except that all of his figurative subjects are eerily hidden beneath rugs.
From round mandala-like tapestries to rectangular Persian-patterned mats, each piece is composed of thousands of thick paint strokes that mimic the texture of a rug’s weave. Cleverly composed bulges and creases create the appearance of large, human-shaped masses beneath the textile surfaces. Santin paints with perfect light and shadow, making each artwork look so real and tangible that it’s both enchanting and unsettling.
Santin’s ongoing rug series evolved from his interest in the opacity of patterned fabric and the way it can be used to obscure the body. His artist statement reads: “Each of these works brings the background into the foreground while a discernible figure hovers beneath the surface.”
You can see more of Santin’s amazing work on his website and Instagram.