Altos de Chavon

Interview with Daniel Hernández: The passion and inspiration behind the Colombian artist – Maestro Manuel Hernández

manuel hernandez artista

This post is also available in: Spanish

manuel hernandez artistaOn Thursday 2nd of February, the art exhibit “Hernández en Chavón” presented by Colombian artist Manuel Hernández was inaugurated at the Altos de Chavón Art Gallery, a celebration hosted by his son Daniel Hernández, who is the Casa de Campo Hotel General Manager – and definitely THE person to talk to in order to get to know a little more about the Maestro Manuel Hernandez and his source of inspiration and passion to create these fabulous master pieces!

At the inauguration of “Hernandez en Chavón” in Altos de Chavón

manuel hernandez arte

The inauguration of “Hernandez en Chavón” was held on Thursday the 2nd of February and was very well attended by many members of the Casa de Campo community.
Click here for photos of the inauguration. 

After enjoying all the gorgeous art work on display as part of the new “Hernández en Chavón” art exhibit, characterized by pure abstraction and signs, Casa de Campo Living wanted to go beyond the final pieces and go futher back to who Manuel Hernández actually is, what started his passion for art and what inspired him to follow his dreams. Below we share an interesting interview with Daniel Hernández (the artist’s son), where he talks about their history, experiencies and his fathers art work:

Casa de Campo Living: What has inspired your father to become an artist? 

Daniel Hernández: “His art work responds to two characteristics found in his personality, which, partly, have made him who he is today. Since he was in high school, he has lived quite a lonely experience, without needing to communicate or depend on others. It’s almost a response to fear, to constant interference, to experience what can only be determined by the external world.

He needs the freedom allowed only by his own shyness. He is distant man, who grew distant, with the pain of absence and early death of his mother, and father. That made him quite sensitive, he couldn’t cope with the loss and this caused a rupture in the family.  He has elected his shyness as a way of life which allows him to set barriers for his solitude and it is from that solitiude from which he paints.

Casa de Campo Living: When did his passion for art start?

Daniel Hernández: Since he was in college, he was inclined to a painting which was pretty close to literature – a reason why he always saw this figures as ilustrations.

His journey to Chile in the 50’s was a timely experiencie. He met Matta (Chilean painter, poet and philosopher) and found in his work an alternative that quickly allowed him to open his mind and preview an evolution in his own language. This is how he became interested in and inspired by Pettoruti from Argentina, who taught him a different way of painting.

Towards the end of that decade, Manuel Hernández started to imagine and create his particular and unique way of painting the “unknown”. Gradually, without major surprises, he consolidated a sign history, which personally to him ment a whole alphabet of new and old emotion

manuel hernandez exhibicion de arteDaniel Hernandez with his wife Sandra at the opening of “50 años de signos” by Manuel Hernandez

Casa de Campo Living: What does it feel like growing up around an artist?

Daniel Hernández: During the first ten years, I remember my father spent a lot of time with us, we were 4 active naughty brothers who lived on the outside of the city. We used to enjoy some quality time with our mother. Our parents always protected us and watched for our education and moral values.

The second decade was tougher. We got to know much more about art and our dad’s needs to dedicate a lot of time to his passion and work. He used to have his own working space at home and it was like a giant safe… nobody had access to it, only my mother and suddenly hours would pass before he came out of it. When I was only 14 years, his career hadn’t really set off by then and it was when we knew that his paintings wasn’t really commercial art, more like an abstract art that not many people understood. This was when we realized that only those who have a deep feeling for this type of art could really enjoy his paintings.

My father sacrificed his potencial and artistic growth to spend more time with us, while others of his generation concentrated in acheiving their goals. On the other hand, my father dedicated a lot of time and effort on research, exploring other countries along with his family in order to find himself with his talent and offer us the best education. It has been a privilege to grow up beside him and having the opportunity to transmit to my children what I’ve learnt over the years.

Casa de Campo Living:When did he start to be successful? Was it difficult? 

Daniel Hernández:  His academic success started in the 50’s, but his financial success wasn’t until mid 70’s.  My mother started to work when she was really young and was pretty successful – a fact that helped us (the family) maintain a financial balance.

However, during all these years, other family and friends clearly lived with many privileges we did not have. We did well, we were educated in a good school, we were surrounded by a wonderful community, with all the benefits this may bring, but as adolescents we missed many luxuries that others had. Everytime he sold a piece of art, I remember he loved sharing that moment with us and after he was successfull (financially speaking) he never changed. He has always been a loving and caring father for us.

Casa de Campo Living: How would you describe your father?

Daniel Hernández: As a “MAESTRO”, a friend, a great father and a marvelous human being, sensitive, shy, silent, non-controversial and above all a GREAT CREATOR!

I am very proud of him because as time passed, I have managed to understand his art work, his success, enjoying every single one of his art exhibits and I’m quite happy now that I have always supported him with his presentations in the Dominican Republic, the country that welcomed me a few years ago. His exhibit in Santo Domingo includes half a century of work under the name of “50 años de signos” is open until March 14th at the National Gallery “Bellas Artes.” He also has another exhibit “Hernandez en Chavón”, which will be open until March 5th in the Altos de Chavón art gallery.

manuel hernandez arte
Casa de Campo Living: Is there a hidden artist inside you? Do any of your children like art?

Daniel Hernández: I consider I have a well hidden artist inside, and I prefer it stays like that for a while. My kids love art and each one of them at some point has understood and enjoyed their grandfather’s paintings.

Casa de Campo Living: What do you perceive from your fathers paintings?

Daniel Hernández:  He does not part from shapes that slowly become a part of an abstract painting. His art is pure abstraction from the start.  These are signs that replace the old narrative content of traditional painting. These are magical elements that are found in the atmosphere.. subtle and disturbing. In each of the paintings observed in these pictures (below), you can find a simple order of shapes that follow a rhythmic process that leads to one thing; balance.

Since the beginning, the names of his paintings include the word “signos” (signs)

“Signo flotante” by Manuel Hernandez – on display in Altos de Chavón
manuel hernandez arte

And we may ask, why “signs”? Signs of what? My father says that the signs always lead to a communication with the viewer, to develop and open his or her mind.  For him, the signs refer to a specific event, they are more like a path that guides your view to a specific direction through your senses and emotions.

“Signo Rosa Contra Luz” by Manuel Hernandez – in Altos de Chavón
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After observing these paintings, we can see how the artist manages to displace these signs in these paintings, with a sense a sense of loss, weight, transformations, permanent movement and consistency…

“Signo Capricho” by Manuel Hernandez – on display in Altos de Chavón
manuel hernandez arte

These are all real and natural facts that my father intends to produce in his signs, according to his experience and emotions since he believes that painting needs to communicate different events and these must be introduced by elements included in his paintings; colors, shapes, limists, composition and balance.

The following photos depict the artwork currently on display at the Altos de Chavón art gallery as part of the exhibit “Hernandez en Chavón”

Art exhibits by Manuel Hernandez
Manuel Hernandez currently has 2 art exhibits on display in the Dominican Republic, they are:

“Hernandez en Chavón” – open until March 5th
Where: The art gallery in Altos de Chavón
Open: Daily 9am – 6pm, closed Tuesdays
Click here for photos of the inauguration and the exhibit

“50 años de signos” – open until March 14th 
Where: Galería Nacional de Bellas Artes (National Gallery of fine arts) in Santo Domingo
Click here for photos of the inauguration and the exhibit 

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