THE TRANQUIL IMAGE: RECENT WORK BY ANAMARIO HERNANDEZ
Edward J. Sullivan
There is a sense of classica l calm, dignity and monumentalityto the work of Anamario Hernandez. She is the quintessential describer of things. In her still lifes each individual component seems to possess a life of its own. Whether humble objects such as jars, glasses, bottles or plates are depicted or the artist concentrates on more fancy objects like exotic shells or rich cloths, the subjects of Anamario’s paintings are not only the things depicted but the inner life of objects.
Still life is an ancient art form. With origins in the Hellenic Greek wall paintings of fruits and flowers to the Roman frescos and mosaics of Pompeii and Herculaneum depicting objects on shelves or “swept floor” motifs the inert thing and its multiplicity of possibilities for description have compelled and challenged artist for hundreds of years.
The still live did not emerge as a fully independent genre, however, until the end of the sixteenth century in both Italy and the North of Europe. At that time artistfelt as if they could concentrate on the noble as well as the humble in their art. Consequently , painters such as Caravaggio in northern Italy and Pieter Aersten in Flanders began to create convincingly “real” pictures of fruits, meat and other food stuffs. The seventeenth century Dutch, Willem Kalf, Willem Heda, Francisco de Zurbaran, Juan van der Hamen and Juan Sanchez Cotan are among the most outstanding figure in the development of the baroque still life. The nineteenth century witnessed another moment of glory of the still life as it became principal vehicle for both the realists (Gustave Courbet) and the Impressionist (Monet, Renoir and others)
Latin American artists have demonstrated themselves to be particularly interested in still life art. In many instances artist have employed the object as a communicator of culturally specific ideas, values and messages. Mexican painters have taken the art of the still life to a very high point. Such modern masters as Maria Izquierdo, Rufino Tamayo, Frida Kahlo , Juan Soriano, Olga Costa and many others have created monumental statements through the means of objects paced on a shelf or on a table top. Mexican artists Anamario Hernandez is no exception to the excellence and communicative power of the still lifes of these artist. About Anamario’s work in this genre ther is much to say.We mostalso ask ourselves several questions. Are there any particular marks of distinction that say to us “this is a Mexican artist? In a way we pwerceive only few direct expressions of cultural identity- even though from time to time we observe a rebozo used as a backdrop for the depiction of objects or the subtle inclusion of a piece of Mexican tableware within the groupings on a table. For the mos part, however,Anamario Hernandez, has entered a dialogue with all her fellow still life painters, from Spanish Golden Age to those of the Post-Impressoinist period. She challenges herself by looking in their worksand doing completely new, unique interpretations of thoswe mundane things that surround her in her world..
Anamario Hernandez has a body of new work that is striking. There is an edelible urge for simplicity and utter clarity in Anamario’s paintings. She is completely opposite to the baroque tradition in her use of lih=ght. She is convinced by the power of clarity and evenness in light. Her canvases are not overwhelmingly bright, but they posses a powerful luminescence. Light, evenly distributed over the surface of her objects, creates a serenity and tranquility that is soothing but, at the same time, stimulating for the convincing palpability it suggest. The exquisitely drwn objects are caressed by the light and consequentely they seem to come alive in an even more real way.
Anamario is an artist who can surprise us when we least expect it. Looking at a wide variety of her paintings, we sense her ease u=in the language of simplicity.Yet, she can also dazzle the eye with astonishing effects effects of sophisticated and subtle technique. She is also fascinated by complications and complexity within her classical framework of simplicity. In a way, one could even declare her work radical in its faithful adherence to tradition, on one hand, and the powerful expression of a unique individuality of expression on the other.