Saturday, January 23, 2016
In the galleries: Experimenting with a classical sensibility
By Mark Jenkins
There are several doors into the gallery of the Mexican Cultural Institute, which is hosting Anamario
Hernandez’s “The Force of Fragility,” but most visitors will probably first encounter “Meditation.” The
large painting is an apt beginning, for it exemplifies the Mexico-bred local artist’s outlook. The picture is
both landscape and still life, and contrasts the view outside a window with a chair inside. The vista appears
ancient while the chair is modern, but they are linked by vivid blue and precise depiction.
In addition to paintings, the show includes drypoint prints, terra cotta sculpture, silver jewelry and a videobased
Hernandez is not a traditionalist, even in her approach to still lifes, which she paints from memory rather
than models. Yet a classical sensibility tempers even her more experimental works, such as the video of
surf and shore projected through two dangling, transparent humanoids that produce multiple shadows and
The artist’s recent work includes two-tiered pictures in which painted linen panels are partially pulled back
to reveal what’s rendered beneath: sets of male and female figures, or just a pair of eyes.
There also are small pictures inside boxes, which integrate painting into the sort of everyday objects that
might be subjects of still lifes.
These painting-sculpture hybrids highlight not only the artist’s craft, but also the limits of our perception.
One of the most modern things about Hernandez is that she, although painting in a realist style, forgoes the
omniscience of the Old Masters. Whether partially hiding an image behind a linen flap or dividing a
landscape across three windows, Hernandez emphasizes a finite individual perspective.
Anamario Hernandez: The Force of Fragility On view through Jan. 30 at the Mexican Cultural Institute,
2829 16th St. NW. 202-728-1628. instituteofmexicodc.org.