Chryss Jan Zonio Santos started attending art classes at five, studying drafting at 10, and painting at 12. At 14, he had his first solo exhibit. Now 20, he is recreating the world
“Art helps you translate what’s in your mind and heart,” says young painter and sketch artist Chryss Jan Zonio Santos. In his heart burns the passion to tell stories through images and to express his great gratitude toward his mother Josette Zonio.
The 20-year-old surrealist-impressionist artist started drawing as soon as he could hold a pencil. He started attending art classes at five, studying drafting at 10, and painting at 12. At 14, Chryss had his first solo exhibit. He has done 10 art exhibitions in total, from group shows to solo exhibitions.
“I draw when I’m waiting for food to be served, or in class, or in the car. I draw whenever I have the chance to. That is how much I enjoy what I do. As my mother would say, I breathe art,” explains Chryss.
As a Gen Z artist, he also admires the works of Japanese artists Yoji Shinkawa and Kunio Okawa, famous mechanical designers of the Metal Gear and Gundam franchises respectively.
Using his 8b German pencils for sketching and Staedler colored pencils to shade and color, Chryss produces alternate realities on paper and canvas. His favorite subject to sketch is speculative Biology, a hypothetical field of science that makes hypotheses and predictions on the evolution of life forms, which also yield fictional creatures bizarre and absurd. “People normally describe my art as incongruous,” he says. He also does charcoal drawings.
The subject of his paintings, on the other hand, are landscapes, plants, trees, and animals. It is his means of promoting love of nature.
On the canvas, Chryss’ style shifts to open composition, emphasizing light in its changing qualities, similar to that of his favorite artist Vincent Van Gogh. Apart from acrylic, he does water color and coffee paintings.
Chryss is currently a college freshman taking up Information Technology, a course he has chosen to further his skills in digital art. His mom is an author and he is a voracious reader. His mother would read to him every night, and as soon as he himself could read he would pick up art books.
“There are so many stories in my head. I draw and paint to tell these stories,” says Chryss. His penchant for reading and drawing led him to develop digital comics as well. Some of his titles online are “Equium” and “Snuff Nature.” Each panel takes him at least three hours to finish.
Along with his mother Chryss creates books and programs that inspire parents and children to be the best they can be. The greatest message he wants everyone to realize is that all of us are gifted with a talent waiting to be developed and utilized. “Since it’s the pandemic people have more time to engage in art. This extra time can be used by people to tap into their creativity.”
True enough, art now holds more meaning than ever. As novelist Torri Morrison once said, “This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.” The health crisis not only affects our physical being, it has also taken its toll on our mental wellness.
“Art helps you connect with your inner self, and with others,” says Chryss. “Art brings release, comfort, hope, beauty.”