Screen Printing Workshop at the Art House Nov. 15th
Art In Progress
---by Tom O'Meara
The tranquillity of a large airy warehouse, where classical music plays softly in the background, and painters and trainees glide around pieces in progress, masks an intense force at work within. This is the studio of Sergio Hernandez, prolific artist and currently one of Oaxaca's most successful painters.
Virtually each year since 1980, he has produced or collaborated on an exhibition. He is in his studio at nine every morning and the earliest he leaves is eight at night. To relax, he runs in the morning, swims at his home in the evening and paints portraits outside of studio hours.
His appearance produces an illusory effect similar to his studio. What marks Hernandez out is his relaxed normality and lack of pretension. He possesses none of the affected quirks and marks of eccentricity we associate and expect from our artists. But when he opens his mouth the intensity is immediately apparent. Every conversation topic is related to his art.
He says he has always known, since he started painting as a child, that he would become an artist. It seemed like a natural progression. His parents, he explains, provided an artistic background, painting and working with wood.
He names Mexican painter Jose Guadeloupe Posada and German artists Enzo and Anfil Kafer as his major influences, but Oaxaca also provides him with a rich pool of inspiration. He cites the markets, attracted by the mythological backgrounds of the animals sold there. "I take them, paint them, transform them and place them in my art."
Like so many artists in Oaxaca he is inspired and influenced by the region's light, but also pays tribute to the colors of the Oaxacan earth and the Mixteca. Of Mixteca descent, Hernandez counts his ancestry as one of his major influences but doesn't think of himself as a specifically Mixteco artist or Mexican artist, simply, "a painter." This is not entirely true. Hernandez also works with ceramics and sculptures. In both mediums he is concerned with producing people and organic forms out of the shapes and textures of wood, plants and seeds.
His painting is a far more personal and biographical process. He draws on his own living experience and dreams, taking personal relationships between human beings, superimposing them on to animals and making mystical links.
"In producing art, the artist is breaking a mental state and is not passive but active."