Angels Underwater by: Miguel Hernández

Graciela Kartofel
Angels Underwater

Miguel Hernández, has a solid background as a painter. Through his work, and with an original approach, he creates a variety of themes including Central American social concerns. On the other hand, the artist emphasizes certain aspects that are related to his birthplace, the Dominican Republic, with a focus that allows them to be understood in a more global way. Now he is showing the series “Angels Underwater,” which draws from another aesthetic and delves into a more visual and laberynthical game. These paintings develop from an encounter that took place thirteen years ago when the artist saw Aka Lady in the Water -one of the most famous black and white photographs of the 20th century by the photographer Toni Frissell. Miguel Hernández was deeply taken by the beauty of the image; he was also impressed by the composition and the fact that although there was a human figure the photographer did not show the model’s face. He recalls the intensity of the piece and the magical illusion that it transmitted. Hence, he could only begin to paint a related theme once he felt ready to create his own compositions. That process took several experimental sessions of underwater photography with his nieces, and resulted in an array of preparatory works towards painting these acrylics on canvas, “Angels underwater.”

Water is a means to relax, to play, to communicate, it also relates to exile, to vacations and to that which is restricted, that which belongs to the powerful as well as the defenseless. For those who are born in an island and go live in another one –Miguel Hernández lives and works in New York–, water takes a significant role as part of the environment, whether in a conscious or unconscious way. In these “angels” one can recognize a floating illusory ambiguity, a utopic and well - intentioned wish that provokes one to think about the pleasures of swimming, floating, dreaming and of going underwater as if it were a liquid of delight. Through several of these paintings, Hernández conveys with admiration the physical and spiritual balance of women — a subtheme in this series. The brush strokes wrap around, and his color and tone combinations give priority to the blues and the whites, accompanied by the greens, ochres and reds, among others. Our gaze discovers the symbolic pair of the figurative and the abstract. The artist entangles the recognizable human figure with the clothes and movements of the water that turns abstract. One can subtlety perceive the weight of the wet cloths creating bubble-like forms. The ambivalence of certain beautiful strokes creates rhythms, islands and halos that both appear and hide in these works that bring together drawing and painting.

- Graciela Kartofel Art Historian-Critic-Curator and curator of this series Angels Underwater. -

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