The massive, imposing architecture of the city yields under Santana’s brushwork to bring out the bold, gutsy essence of Chicago. Powerful buildings caught in a moment of light capture realistic narrative without human presence. In Santana’s paintings, Lake Michigan resembles the sea of his youth on the coast of Spain and the Chicago River reminds the viewer of Venetian canals. Santana uses photographs only as a guide while he is painting. He doesn’t want to invent the architecture in his paintings; he only wants to bring life to it. At first glance you might think that Santana’s paintings fall into the school of photo realism. But look closer and you can see the texture of the paint, thickly applied in some areas to reveal the bricks on a wall or the foam of a cresting wave. His use of light is pure romanticism.