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Limor Gottlieb in conversation with the artist Secundino Hernández

October 29, 2015

ArtsPainting | by Harry Seymour

Everyone Wants A Piece Of Secundino Hernández. The artist’s career is taking off fast, and his work has attracted strong international interest over the past years. Over the course of his career, Secundino Hernández developed his style – a mix of action painting that elicits former artistic works from El Greco to Giacometti, with a cartoony element, combining abstraction, minimalism and expressionism. Hernández strives for personal perfection and his development can be traced in his paintings. The artist makes sure to push himself not only creatively but moreover, mindfully – constantly presenting and addressing new ideas and concepts to the viewer, resulting in a diverse and complex yet energetic body of work, turning each art ashow and gallery exhibition into a new experience while staying impressively and consistently recognizeable. You can spot a Secundino Hernández painting from a mile away, and simply can’t miss it. Hernández’s paintings are breathtaking and lure the viewer’s eye into a labyrinth of lines and colours, turning the viewing experience into a meditation – just like his work process itself.

Secundino Hernández Installation, Secundino Hernández, 11 June – 2 August 2014, Victoria Miro, 16 Wharf Road, London, N1 7RW. Courtesy the Artist and Victoria Miro, London © Secundino Hernández
Secundino Hernández, Installation, Secundino Hernández, 11 June – 2 August 2014, Victoria Miro, 16 Wharf Road, London, N1 7RW. Courtesy the Artist and Victoria Miro, London © Secundino Hernández

Just like in previous works, his new paintings feature labyrinthine structured compositions, mixing strong linear elements and rich fractures of colour. Staying true to his own style and artistic influences, Hernández’s techniques include washing and scraping. His approach is meticulous and process oriented, revealing the successes, as well as the struggles of the artist; a push and pull between chaos and beauty, impulse and structure.

The artist recently discussed his newly completed body of work presented by Victoria Miro at Frieze with Candid Magazine.

“So this is not new for me”, says the artist of his work, referring to the combination of lines and colour.

What is new, is that the background has changed. By employing the washing and scraping technique, Hernández has taken out more from the painting, removing elements, and literally getting through the canvas. In fact, when you step closer, and look at the canvas, you can detect the holes resulting from “taking out the grounding and getting through the painting”. This creates a three dimensional look that makes each individual element almost jump right at you. The texture, such as the thick paint, comes from the canvases being spread out on the floor of his studio.

First come the colours, which are completely intuitive, then come the planned lines.

“What worries me more in these works are the graphic lines. First, I start with the colour and then I do the lining, which is the only thing planned about the work. Every time I take something that I’ve learnt from doing previous works. For example this time around I took the problem of lining, the relation between lining and colour, almost like a study of my own work. Now the line is my focus, the most important part, and is planned much in advance. First I draw it on a piece of paper, I move my hand, and fingers, but when I transfer it on canvas, I have to move my entire body.”

In fact that movement translates on canvas, you can see and feel the movement in the painting. It becomes apparent that not only Hernández’s physical world is multi- dimensional, but so is his approach to making work. In a way, Hernández’s new paintings are a study of his own art.

“Yes, it might sound egocentric, but I developed my own ideas for this one, mastering my own art, as well as mind. I was always pretty self confident, but now I feel like I don’t need to have a subject, or explain myself. I understand what is happening to me on the inside. My work is more like a little meditation, and I need to do it every day. I go to the studio and stay there from morning until night – maybe I work too much, but going to the studio is not like making bread. I have to feel like I’m going to develop something new. I have to work every day, even when I don’t feel inspired, I can still work, and sometimes I pull inspiration from just doing. On bad days, I simply move on to a different canvas.”

Secundino Hernández At Frieze London 2015 Installation. Courtesy the Artist and Victoria Miro, London © Secundino Hernández
Secundino Hernández at Frieze London 2015 Installation. Courtesy the Artist and Victoria Miro, London © Secundino Hernández

The artist draws stimulation from the inside, rather than looking for it externally. In a way, Hernández’s work is an inner reflection, therefore each painting exists as a platform and a bearer of transferred energy.

Hernández divides his time between Madrid, his home country and the place where he produces his paintings, and Berlin, where he spends his time in contemplation. “In Berlin I develop my projects and think about what I have to do. I find Germany mentally stimulating, while in Madrid it is easier for me to work from a logistics point of view. Altogether this is a good combination, especially when I can escape the cold winters in Berlin and hot summers in Madrid.”

When asked about isolation and feeling solitude, the artist explains that; “these days, having to share my studio with two more artists a few times a week, it has gotten easier to be alone, because my work is very intimate. I am the only one painting my work, based on my own impulses.”

During our interview we were interrupted a few times, because there were industry people who visited the Gallery and wanted to meet the artist. Hernández apologised and explained briefly that it had something to do with potential future shows. While he can’t confirm the projects at this time, the artist is already planning his next works; “I’m open, but I want to go back to figuration. I’m going to continue this work, but I have more ideas catered to shows and museums. My goal is not to showcase the same kind of work in every gallery.”

But when asked about what the future holds for the artist, who just celebrated his fourtieth birthday, the Spanish art sensation simply responds with “I don’t think about the future. I take it step by step. We were talking about the paintings, that’s much more intereting.”


By Limor Gottlieb