Dan Hernandez

Represented by Kim Foster Gallery, New York, NY

Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellency Award Recipient 2011 & 2015

 
 

ARTIST STATEMENT

Genesis


Genesis is defined as “the coming into being of something; the origin”, but like many words that can be used as both noun and proper noun, what it communicates depends largely on its usage. Two of its usages, and the relationship that exists between them, are particularly interesting and relevant to my body of work. In the first, and probably most well known, Genesis is the title of an important religious text. In the second, and equally well known amongst my generation, Genesis is the Sega video game console that hit the home gaming market in the late 1980s. While these two usages come from very different traditions, they share some common ground. On a basic level both signify a type of narrative device. In the case of the religious text, the Book of Genesis houses the creation stories that are part of the Christian tradition; Noah’s Arc, Adam & Eve, etc. Similarly, the Sega Genesis game console is a vehicle for narrative games like Golden Axe, Streets of Rage, Altered Beast and others. On another level, both of the narrative collections that are associated with these usages of Genesis utilize the supernatural and mythic as a central and reoccurring theme. These comparisons are clearly a bit of a stretch, but within the space that is created by embracing such eccentric relationships there exists unique and interesting possibilities for artistic exploration.

In my artistic process I make connections like the ones mentioned above. They are often misguided, insignificant and rarely art historically correct, but I embrace them as absolute. Generally the associations are loosely tied together through some visual dialog between the two or more parts. These misconceptions are often the genesis of new paths in my development as an artist. For instance, I have concluded that there are strong parallels between video games like Street Fighter 2, a side scrolling, competitive fighting game by Capcom, and Early Christian Annunciation paintings by artists like Giotto, Duccio, and Simone Martini. By believing this conclusion to be true I allow myself the possibility of thoughtfully combining things that might not otherwise be combined. What results are objects, images and worlds that exist between the parts that conceived the initial connection. They are the embodiment of the connection or the artifacts that confirm its existence and through their creation the connection becomes concrete. This is not to say that what results is fact because it is not. Fact is what actually exists and what can be proven. It is the work of historians and scientists. My works are the possibilities, the “what ifs”, the maybes, they are fictions and inventions.

Despite its definition (the coming into being of something), which can communicate the sense of “new”, the word genesis, by its association with the biblical text and by its origin in Old English, also conveys a sense of “the old”. This juxtaposition is equally interesting and relevant to my work as an artist. By nature, things that are very old have an increased sense of value. Some of this value comes from the sense that they have survived the passage of time and are fragments of a larger whole that has been lost. Such fragments offer a small window into a particular time, place or culture. These glimpses into the past can be wonderfully mysterious and at the same time familiar and comforting. A good example of this duality can be found at the House of the Tragic Poet in Pompeii. At the entrance to this home lays a curious mosaic depicting an image of a dog and the Latin words “Cave Canem”. Translated in to English, these Latin words identify this artifact from roman antiquity as a strangely familiar type of item that is common in modern society; a sign warning visitors to “beware of dog”.


This duality of, the curious and the familiar, the old and the new, the historic and the nostalgic, is another important theme of my work. I have found that the feelings associated with “the old” can be manufactured and used to modify how a particular subject is viewed, and to create a sense of duality that is similar to the aforementioned. The imagery presented in my work, which is weaved together from both contemporary and art historical sources, is created primarily in the computer but it is viewed through a lens that is applied purposefully to create this feeling of “age”. Through transferring the computer image to a physical surface and manipulating that surface, the work takes on qualities associated with fresco painting. This association ties the imagery, which is made using a very contemporary process, to a pictorial tradition from the past. While the digital nature of the process is always evident, it is this vale of “age” that solidifies the work and creates the material tension that parallels the dialog that is taking place within the imagery itself.