Cover: Archive Luis Alberto Hernandez, From the Heavenly Journey, 2008, Mixed media and gold leaf on canvas 39.5” x 31.5
Involuntary journey, 2006 Mixed media and gold leaf on cardboard 29.5” x 21.5”
A memory reaching farther than time
mong and between us all, even as far back as the dawn of letters, a game of mirrors with endless reflections was put in place within the vast courtyard of the skull. From side to side, between the two faces of our brain, among the ceaseless comings and goings of our thoughts, between those antinomic poles that animate us, a kind of labyrinth appears to take form, of which one could say that, besides containing each one of us, it brings together the whole world. That labyrinth is a composite of our passions, those electric accents that run through and pierce the sky as well as the flesh, so far as to make the former a projection of the latter. It is made up as well by the erratic movements of our thoughts – those that speak the evidentiary language of veracity as much as those that lay out the shivery lines of the course of time. Inasmuch as we cannot get rid of ourselves, we cannot escape from that labyrinth. It would seem to us, likewise, that on the other side, beyond the invisible walls of this prison made of light and night, there is but nothingness. To grapple with such a notion, humans of all times have sought to turn the struggle between darkness and light into the single proof for the existence of another side, and that is what they called God. Starting from an evidence as unrivalled as that, they begot the pre-discoursive axiom that irradiates every language of the world. As we humans kept following that path or – better said, perhaps – forevermore walked through nights and days, unaware of the scraps left by the highlights wrested from our memories, we began concocting those figures that would end up becoming the matchless shapes of a memory that reaches far beyond the time of remembrances.
To Open the Gates, 2008 Mixed media and gold leaf on canvas 39.5” x 31.5”
Inevitably nomads, humans were bound to revisit old familiar sites, lying to themselves, if the need arose, to maintain their dream in the grip of fate, of destiny. Just to grow accustomed to life, they learned how to recognize those points; and, in comparing memory sites with the salient points and the leftovers – unable to act otherwise – they shaped lineaments that recomposed the courses of the day, the month, the year, all within the darkness of the skull. As precarious as their memory is, it was the unutterable mental shapes that stood the most decisively in making it possible for them to behold both night and day.
The painter Luis Alberto Hernandez has devoted his work to consecrating those shapes that compose memory itself: to a memory that reaches farther than time. In Nómadas, he ventures into singular, novel pathways, always led by the irrecusable urge not so much to comprehend but rather to put the sphere of the Sign into play and circulation within the labyrinth of our dread, our fears..
Orientation Luis Alberto Hernandez has attained great experience in whatever concerns the play of letters, the vitality of signs, the incompressible force of symbols, the oscillating balance of day and night within the human brain, and the shadows projected by belief in every one of our gestures. He has, in a sense, declined those into palimpsests with somber colors wherefrom gold leaf radiates: a symbol that stands beyond whatever is symbolic, inasmuch as it manifests not god or god’s voice, but rather the light that clamors its hunger in everyone’s entrails, that place where god self-contemplates through the act of regarding the darkness of the world. Then again, aside from believing in or denying god’s existence, what matters most to Hernandez is the act of harvesting the sacral force of the life drops, thus making it possible for them to keep sowing dreams. In order to do that, it was somehow necessary to reach for the pilgrim’s staff, to set out again and again on a persistent journey: having folded certainties in his pants’ pockets, he would become once more a nomad in his search for the salient points that stood as the primeval elements of memory.
So it was that he started once again unfolding the maps of the labyrinth, but in doing so he found himself confronted by a wall – the same, ever-present screening wall that hugs the coast behind the gaze – at once being a frontier and a gateway, the undiscoverable overture as well as the evidence that such a thing exists. That is the reason why, rather than gathering his habitual letters and symbols, these current works of Hernandez muster lines and tracing strokes: clear shapes of the sacred geometry that is built upon salient points of a memory that reaches beyond time, evoking invisible locks which seem to burst abruptly from the wall to betoken some gateway that remains itself invisible. Luis Alberto Hernandez has now shifted his query on to the possibilities of belief as an aid in the activation of his painting, so that it may become a projectile that allows everyone to experience how much it is that belief gets perpetuated in us. This is not so much
a matter of judging whether the possibility that a voice might be rumbling from behind the wall is something inconceivable. It is indeed a whole different question that haunts Hernandez’s brain – and that is, the matter of orientation. Humans named god as the ungraspable core of a chart of orientation that they were constrained to assemble in the darkness of their skull, just to be able to remain living as nomads of the absolute. Luis Alberto Hernandez knows that we cannot get out from that enclosure, that we will never be able to escape from it because there is no exit. Nonetheless, he knows as well that the screening wall is grangerized with doors that open the way for temporary incarnations, gateways whose locking mechanisms are the only things that may become visible – that is, under certain conditions. His work stands then as a wondrous attempt at granting an undeniable existence to those locking mechanisms; moreover, to compel the vital need for belief to assert itself, by keeping its doppelganger close to his heart. On the reverse side of believing there is the recognition that belief is in fact designless. That is what comes into play in every one of his tableaux, inasmuch as he displays how, in an absolute language, there is a superposition of the incognizance of emancipated signs; the magnetic power that those invariably loud and yet mute signs exert upon the mind/spirit; the pulsion of looking beyond what is seen; and the boundless temptation to understand. That is why and how these works can move forward upon the complex path that summons in each of us the demand to recognize that there is still and there will always be a need for orientation. We enter then this singular mental zone wherein we perceive the conjugation of the three strata that envelop thought in and of itself. The first of those, discreet and secret, is the one that sets down before our senses the evening, the music of the spheres. It springs within each of us at the moment when we pay attention to the cracking of signs and to the fixity of time. The second one stands as the unrestricted cultural unconscious, which makes us recognize that everybody is bound to remain, in every instant at every place, an absolute nomad: that we have simply come aboard the secret cross-breeding wherefrom our sprit was born – which is sometimes difficult for us to accept. Each one of those tableaux speaks the secret language of the retrospective illumination that makes it possible for everyone to experience and to comprehend.
The third one is the unexcelled Eros, causing the flow of blood through our veins, making bodies multiply, as well as those latent visions which inhabit our dreams and embellish the manuscripts set by time upon the table of our days. Then again, in the thickness of the multiple belief systems that wander on the surface of the earth, it is important, now more than ever, to put in practice a salutary asceticism that neither denies what came before nor rejects what is now. It is essential to acknowledge that finding one’s bearing is not only necessary but vital indeed; that aside from being necessary, orientation has been inscribed in our guts just as it has in the skies, and that finding one’s bearing is made possible only by way of the signs that speak the language of the light that flickers on the backless page of oblivion. Every one of Hernandez’s tableaux attempts in its own way to become one of those pages.
Sacred Eros The gestures proper to hallowing acts have a particular tenor, to which Luis Alberto Hernandez has consistently devoted himself. In so far as he lies down upon his canvases the pure vigor of symbols without appurtenances, each one of his paintings is a superposition of gestures whose aggregate confers the maximal evocative power to the surface. Furthermore, in order to mobilize our cultural unconscious, he plunges himself into the heart of his people, of his familial history, multicultural and mestiza. And, from all of that he rightly infers that such ethnic mixture constitutes the deepest identity of the world as well as that of all beings, of the psychical as well as the oneiric. But, all that notwithstanding, he still has to face the blinding stratification that leads men to believe what they are taught rather than what they truly feel. Every one of his tableaux is therefore an attempt to point us to the paths that make it possible to accept our foundational emotions. As he deconstructs before our eyes the muddy soil of our beliefs, Hernandez brings to the fore three essential questions. The first one has to do with lost time. Though, in actual fact, one should speak here of what is lost, without associating that with the word time, since in a certain sense time exists only as a social requisite that is consequent upon a learned belief. That is proven in each one of Hernandez’s tableaux, inasmuch as he sets down naked signs on his surfaces, to bring into view the imminence of an untainted presence by way of those signs now free of signifying duties. That is, in fact, to succeed in visually grasping the paradox that turns his paintings into efficient vectors of orientation. Since it has forever haunted humans, the second one is that of orientation. Finding one’s bearings in life becomes an inevitable obsession, particularly when we lie alone at night, facing the sky even as we know so very little about what makes this magnificent and disquieting cosmos. The need for orientation confirms the inexistence of time, given that every man is absolutely
new and alone when it comes to answering that vital question in and by himself. … After having manipulated letters, signs and symbols exclusively, Luis Alberto Hernandez has managed nowadays to put into play a sacred geometry that outlines the possible shapes of efficient mental keys: the keys that open doors which lead into the world of the lost – the realm that exists, for each of us, on the reverse side of the pages of oblivion. The third question is the one for origins. We humans have always seen ourselves as being at once carnal and spiritual. However, the greatest sense of disorientation that exists, and which confronts us today more than ever, is the one reflecting the fact that we have never succeeded in understanding how it is that flesh and spirit may be one and the same thing. As he paints tableaux whose central theme is a mandorla – the sacred almond-shaped aureola – Hernandez awakens in us the distant remembrance of that forever-unseen gateway through which we all must pass to enter this world. The feminine genitalia, here shaped as a purified mandorle, betokens the origin as it confers upon it a visible form, while at the same time pointing out that this gateway through which we all have passed is as well the one upon which our mind/spirit is stretched. Eros is spiritual before it turns carnal. In these latter works of his, Hernandez consequently adds to the alloy a deep meditation on the nomadism of symbols as an echo of the psychic nomadism whereby every human becomes the subject of a living approach to the sacred Eros – which commands our recognition as the key to presently open the gates to the beyond of signs: a key that broaches the four shapes within which the power of the spirit manifests itself. Luis Alberto Hernandez tells us, and actually shows us, that every sign, every color, every gesture, every painting constitutes by itself and on its own a fragment of absolute time. Throughout the multiplicity of his works he delineates a spiral that stands as an unattainable yet living shape of the sacred geometry – that vital chart for psychic orientation. In short, he carries signs, letters and symbols into something that is beyond representation, by way of pure pictorial gestures which make it possible for the music of the spheres to be heard by us directly. The interlacing of his gestures – which are at once inscription and effacement, covering and revelation – leads us into living a moment of ecstasy: the one and only key to break open the real mysteries regarding the existence of light and darkness within us. 10/01/2015
Jean-Louis Poitevin París, 10/01/2015
t is within a framework of truth, appearance and illusion that the work of Luis Alberto Hernández evolves. I met this artist many years ago, and since then I have come across his works as part of various cultural and creative manifestations that take place in the Arab world. Now, as we meet again, he is to me the same as always: his voice calm, whispering; his soul ever aware of the spaces opening before it; and his refined mien echoing the breath of an ocean permeated by humanity’s multifarious cultures. Whether it was in the Biennials of Sharjah or Dubai in the Emirates, Cairo, Oman, Tunisia, or any other place where I ran into him, his being would become translucent chiefly through his paintings – as the multiple roots of his ancestry appear to stretch into the somber depths of his colors. His frontiers scattered through the cosmos, his earthly house, the hallowed space where his spirit dwells, it seems as though he has attained all of those through his precognition of the sacred world. This is in any case what I feel as I contemplate his works, which shift between golden, red and black hues in a metaphysical journey that could well be seen as “divergently beautiful,” where iconic symbols lead us beyond the sensory world, thus enabling the discernment of those deeper feelings that are inherent to every human circumstance.
The path and its symbols, 2008 Mixed media and gold leaf on canvas 39.5” x 31.5
Indeed so, through his work one undertakes a journey that leads the senses to step away from their material boundaries. As though upon a vertical axis, one travels up and down, back and forth, over and over – engaging in a dance that hinges on the rhythmic beats of opposites. That is what we encounter in the paintings of Hernández, in that loving relationship of his with the obscure and the arcane – even as his aim is to unveil the potentials that allow light to surface from the unseen, while staying open to the appeals of modernity and the lure of cognitive values. Still, his canvases remain willfully outside the materialistic urges of worldly approaches; they stand for the hearth of the absolute as it is made concrete through the transit between nomadic life and urbanization. There is no significant difference here between the blush of the skin and the redness of the letter, as both of them add winsomeness to values while granting full balance to the deep-seated intimacy of the content.
The darkness opens up slightly into scriptures that Luis Alberto Hernández compounds into moving objects, in such a way that his message goes beyond the meaning of words. As the work makes spectators the recipients of such wondrous Scripture, it leaves a trail of something resembling visual sounds or visible voices, thanks to an organic thread that binds the writing with its background – as though to point out that what matters is to behold the scriptures, not to vocalize them. These ethereal tongues are gathered in a visual context that flows between the single and the compounded, in accordance with their volume and their shifts. And, due to the oscillating character of their own motions, the calligraphies unfurled upon the works have the potentiality of turning into symbols. Soughing tremors stretched upon the surface of the picture appear as emanations from the experience of the artist, who variegates them between vehemence and detachment within a space made of dusk, of quietude, even of silence. This while free movements linked with the shapes of that illegible writing are conjoined with the blackness and the umbra. The artist has managed to establish a link between the visible object and the moment when it is seen: a kind of duet that conjugates forms and binds them to the temporal factor, delineated by its extensions and curvatures, while the visual game is emphasized thanks to the colors that blend surfaces. It is as though Hernández were composing his visual text by means of motions and emotions, in a transit from inert quiescence to a puissant billowing, thus compelling the calligraphy to surrender to the artist’s soul as it attains communion with the sacred. What makes the scriptural forms distinct, as visual elements, is how their transcription into the artwork follows the creator’s fancy as well as his ability to distinguish lightness from heaviness, the vague from the precise, the pleat from the tear, continuance from arrest. Those elements are all found within the architecture of the painting, and also in the links that colligate spiritual or geometric schemes that have taken shape with the flow of time until they came to hold a place in the Sufi and numinous philosophies of the East and the West. In perceiving the energy that emanates from the artist’s works, the eye plays a role akin to that of the throat in relation to the voice. That is a secret whose elucidation can be achieved only through casting one’s gaze upon the motions of so many figures on the surfaces of the artwork. Moreover, the scriptural shapes are spread upon virtual distances on the canvas, as they mirror their creator’s inspiration. Such reflection – a sign of reasoning in the Platonic sense – is the evidence, the visible effect, the active and inspiring configuration that leads from chaos to order. As this journey unfolds – that is, the process whereby the artwork is realized – the positive and the negative begin to be differentiated: an analytical motion that unveils the depths of the artist’s sempiternal universe, whose fundament is predicated upon the alternations of emptiness and plenitude, weightlessness and gravity. This while a romantically poetic touch sets off the resources of the abstract imaginary to forecast reflections emanating from the heart – yes, the heart, high throne of the artist wherefrom he can contemplate the full expanse of his hallowed kingdom.
The works of Hernández are a mirror for his soul, which has travelled so much – amidst erudition, through time and geography – in his quest for the essence itself, and for that disposition of the abstractive and the symbolic to pay homage to the memory of silence. Within his work – those notebooks of the soul – Hernández has inscribed his journeys toward the origins, whence he poses the questions that enter into the very meaning of human existence. Through a number of queries on the codes gathered in the crucibles of civilizations, cultures and religions of this earth, the artist deploys before us a prolific view of his distinctive pursuance of the invisible, and a contemplation whereby the spirit – as well as the mind and eyesight – can attain awareness. The inscriptions are not resigned to stand as mere ornamental dressing, or to simply search for a midmost point; after all, they are grounded on the embossment of each part, and on the awareness of the relation between core and perimeter on the level of the image, which most of the time extends beyond the artwork, thus making it possible for every component of the painting to take on the value of the ensemble, just as every component of the symbol takes on the value of the symbol as a whole. This is a deciphering principle put into play by the artist to generate new meanings that, while having no links whatsoever with the anatomic truth of the symbol, transcend it to unfold new choices, in the shape of a modernized totality that rewrites the relation between form and meaning, as an acutely perceptible visual sign. Movement in its dispassionate perpetuity, the journey through time, the interpretation of one subject in more ways than one, the underscoring of spiritual dimensions in comparison with the corporeity of the work, the oscillation between Self and Non-Self: such are the sources of vitality for the paintings of Luis Alberto Hernández. All of this is ratified by the titles that he gives to his works. Those betoken his eagerness to create in such a way that his representations be not limited to the components of the pictures, but rather that they transcend that level to reach a visual outcome whose definition is not limited by place or time – thus attempting to achieve a creative transformation that remains attuned with his artistic era. He portrays his eternal self while moving from one place to another – step by step, between reality and dream, heaven and earth, presence and absence – so as to bring times and distances together under his wings. The full span of human experience becomes one on the palm of his hand, no matter what materials or colors he chooses to use. The warmth of the matter wherefrom his work comes to fruition, along with the liaison between the image’s upper and lower registers, strengthens the reciprocity of the manifest and the intimate in him. This is incessantly confirmed by his sustained attempts to veil the evident and reveal the imponderable. By the same token, Hernández emphasizes his relation with the Other as well as his sincere regard for the viewers of his works, whatever their cultural background, or their interpretation of those traces and signs that make the painting simultaneously stern and ductile.
The artist is thus seen as an all-encompassing space, fully open to the entirety of human experience. In his drive for discovery, he puts forth signs that evoke and revive sentiments which give rise to magical significations as well as feelings of love and serenity, in a sort of backwards reckoning that leads us to genesis, to stage Zero and the origins of matter. Through a meticulous excavating work whose aim is to discard the varnish of modern civilization that conceals the substantial, Hernández denudes things in order to ratify the significance of his journey – whether that is to return to point Zero, or to go forth into infinitude, or death. And in considering both notions, he rewrites those aspects of things that confine the knowledge, the language and the codes of human beings. Even if at times he restores certain phenomena, he won’t refrain from destroying others. That is his way: impelled by the lucidity of a creative watchfulness, whose dream-state oscillates between joy and sorrow, he aims to blend night and day and to dispel backlogged elements, in virtue of the introspection proper to the human Self, which unfolds within the infinite framework of art.
Critic, artist and Poet, 2007
Essential Silence, 2009 Mixed media and gold leaf on canvas 25.5” x 21.5”
Manifestation of the Divine, 2011 Mixed media and gold leaf on canvas 39.5” x 31.5”
Secret subtleties, 2009 Mixed media and gold leaf on canvas 25” x 21.5”
Labyrinth, 2011 Mixed media and gold leaf on canvas 23.5” x 19.5”
From perennial Wisdom, 2009 Mixed media and gold leaf on canvas 25” x 21.5”
Of Divine will, 2011 Mixed media and gold leaf on canvas 23.5” x 19.5”
To ascend from the Centre, 2011 Mixed media and gold leaf on canvas 23.5” x 19.5”
Wholeness, 2011 Mixed media and gold leaf on canvas 23.5” x 19.5”
Sacred ties, 2011. Mixed media and gold leaf on canvas 23.5” x 19.5”
Sublime experience, 2011 Mixed media and gold leaf on canvas 39.5” x 31.5
Nothing has been lost, 2006 Mixed media and gold leaf on cardboard 30” x 21.5”
So that the Word remains, 2006 Mixed media and gold leaf on cardboard 30” x 21.5”
To return to Itaca, 2006 Mixed media and gold leaf on cardboard 29.5” x 21.5”
To retain their voices, 2006 Mixed media and gold leaf on cardboard 30” x 21.5”
In connection with the Absolute, 2011 Mixed media and gold leaf on canvas 23.5” x 19.5”
n Latin American geography and culture, each and every human being is at once a unit and a multiplicity – identical to him/herself while constantly changing. That is how we validate the existential game of cohabitation, how we celebrate the presence of a human course originated in wanderings and shipwrecks that occurred all over the world and transplanted their actors’ lives among us. This principle may be interpreted as a way to comprehend identity, along with a sense of the universal that peers from every countenance and every gesture of that which, day by day, we end up being. In Latin America, we have so far gone through over five-hundred years of mixtures and rites composing the most surprising alliances. And this multicultural cohabitation – as an unrepeatable creative act, stocked with the glorifications and nostalgias of all the human presences that shape us – keeps its distance from the generally accepted perspectives on relations between two or more cultural systems. Prior to the Spanish Conquista of what is today’s Latin American territory, the “Great Masters of Dawn” – who created humans out of corn – organized life in culturally heterogeneous societies with a yearning for eternity that spread throughout great regional expanses. Along the course of their history and in variable time frames, those societies shared the dreams and influences of diverse civilizing ranges, and left a testimony of early steps taken when the winds blew in a different direction. In fact, Latin America has been from the beginning an athanor furnace where the most diverse cultural and human compounds are fermented and cooked. Without exception, all of those have left their imprint – from the historically determined Asian ancestry of our indigenous population, to the great pre-Columbian cultures that flourished in these lands, then the African and Iberian cultures, and on to the mid-nineteenth century Arabic and Hebraic migrations. So then, of which identity is it that we must speak? How can we placate the besieging challenges of such ontological anxiety?
Visions of Eternity, 2011 Mixed media and gold leaf on canvas 39.5” x 31.5”
As for me personally, through my veins flows blood from distant and mysterious African and Hindu lineages. And although my father, diluted in the pith of a sorrowful history, anticipated that its primeval sources would be cast into oblivion, the mystery remains, summoning my visions to restore its memory. My mother’s father, in turn, was a Hindu immigrant in Trinidad, when his motherland was still a British colony. Chasing after petroleum dreams like so many others, he arrived in Puerto la Cruz, going across the State of Sucre from Guiria.
The “coolies,” as they were called in the zone, left in their wake throughout the country’s western lands a glorious culinary culture of exotic colors, flavors and aromas – as if to challenge eternity. I never got to know him, but I am told that his name was Irshad, that he had a tiger’s eyes and hair like the night. He was one of my grandmother’s early husbands, in the family’s primal days when, overtaken by all of love’s miracles, she allowed her heart to be consumed by the desires of that far-ranging wanderer. One feels bound to give shape to that nostalgia, to question time so as to soothe the ravages of wakefulness. How to retrieve the gods of my ancestors? Something of the Buddha must have lodged in their dramas. Perchance Shiva or Vishnu appeased their yearning for Heaven. Were my African ancestors Muslims perhaps? The certainty that something has been hopelessly lost is painful. However, those interrogations return us to the beginning, where passion helps maintain myths alive, so that imagination may offer its homage. Our history provides certain distinctive venues that propose ways to understand our identity – its crossbreedings, hybridizations, cultural and racial blends – based on an acknowledgement of diversity. I have endeavored to assume that legacy, in the context of today’s globalized world. I do this not to claim a self-contained identity, but rather to realize a spiritual cartography that, as shown by our historical genesis, suggests apertures. That is, doubtlessly, a conceivable set of tow ropes for this drifting journey, not simply to recover a diverse culture and identity, but to salvage a vital platform from which to bring forth a better insertion into global citizenship. Because being human implies being multicultural, as was so magnificently put by Hanif Kureishi, the British writer of Pakistani assent. Indeed, to speak of the multicultural means accepting that we are shaped by different streams of history – which is a blessing in itself. There is no longer in the world anything that may be wasted just by reason of its being a fragment. “They” are “we,” and the beauty of the opposites imposes the probability of inventing a dream of inclusion, of amplitude and tolerance. I had invented that dream intuitively already. At the age of fifteen, I celebrated the initiation rituals that my siblings had practiced religiously: to renounce familial protection in favor of embarking in the adventure of self-conquest. I would later learn, with Lao Tse, that the longest journey begins with one single step; and I had already taken that step. I was searching for glimpses of an ancient mystery, which would lead me to engage with a different kind of rigor in the soul’s journey on earth: a way of inquiring that should
answer to the mute cry of the heart; a wish for the mysterious – in short, an always risky spiritual exercise in renovation that, as a powerful metaphor, forced me to stand face to face with the idea of God. This was the only way to search for answers to the most profound questions. I attempted an incantation, an entreaty pointing to the most symbolically distant places: my own Mecca, my Jerusalem, my Sacred Valley of Giza. … I needed, as the Sufis say, to see with the eyes of the heart. I was thus avoiding the prison of those capricious rules that, every so often, are established arbitrarily in the arts to impose whatever tendencies. My immediate horizon was located, willfully, on the margins of local artistic and cultural fashions. That is the reason why my activity has evolved fundamentally outside our borders. Being receptive to the interweaving of local and global signifiers, I have so far shifted back and forth along the world in a succession of movements that have taken me in recurring occasions from Venezuela to Europe, Asia, Africa, and back to the Americas, as though repeating in actuality the symbolism of the inner journey’s circularity. These remotions have stood for me as trailblazing ways toward heterogeneity, toward cultural juxtapositions. I went in search of the place where the history of civilization began. I was awed by the immensity of ancient culture. I allowed myself to be immersed in the aesthetic pleasures granted by innumerable ruins; I visited sanctuaries in many bends of the path: Chartres, Notre Dame, Stonehenge’s megalithic stones, the Great Pyramid. … I sailed the waters of the Nile; I wandered through desert sands, at every step coming upon ruins of nameless temples. On clear nights, the stars often reminded me of the eternal and of so many of the world’s sublime mysteries. And that nomadic life, which turned my experience of the journey into a strategy for artistic inquiry, started to take on decisive connotations in my investigative programme, moreover generating an increasingly complex gamut of personal experiences and practices in the field of transcultural interceptions. The final result of those relocations, which at other levels guard the sacred meaning of the pilgrimage, ended up becoming the grammar of my language. In doing so, it reasserted many of the artistic and conceptual premises that I had been working with thus far. That interchange of cultural visions allowed me to reinterpret the profound meaning preserved by certain religious practices and traditions with which humankind has expressed its spiritual motivations.
This experience makes up the testimonial of a wandering turned into aesthetic gesture, of a constant pilgrimage that unfolds and makes manifest the traces of a rather “nomadic” art, in which the dazzling radiance of spiritual contents from very distant cultures is interweaved and juxtaposed. Thus conceived, art is open to a cosmological genesis as the true conceivability of identity, where cultural borders are abolished; where every culture is its own legacy, as it is the product of a worldview that is open to the Totality that we all belong to. From that perspective, the aesthetic dimension reverts again to that which links humankind to its most intimate experience. And this, as Krishnamurti foresaw it, stands as a reminder that beauty is a profound modality of knowledge, a direct intellection of the unfurling of the Divine’s depth. “Nomadic art” brings us closer to intimacy with the truth of those depths; it insinuates to us the various ways in which spirituality takes shape in cultures, to establish venues for communion with Totality. As I searched for that dimension of beauty, my faith has been reaffirmed. I have lived the artistic experience not as a profession or a trade; it has been rather the fundamental conformation of a destiny. The flame of mystery burns brighter every day in the evolution of that destiny, and it unveils – from an aesthetic unconscious – the spiritual vestiges of remote cultures. Crossbreeding, which is the world’s true identity, will in this way continue recomposing itself, free and without borders. And it will in painting as well.
Luis Alberto Hernández 2006
uis Alberto Hernández was born on November 15th of 1950 in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela, where he lived until he moved to Caracas at age fifteen. He has studied in depth sacred traditions worldwide such as occult philosophy, spiritual legacies, initiatory experiences, alchemy, Divine symbols which have given great spiritual insight throughout his artistic reflection. At the age of 18 he began drawing lessons at the Francisco Pimentel Center in Caracas and subsequently conducts studies at Central University of Venezuela obtaining degrees in Art and Literature. In various cultural institutions in Caracas, he also studies at the Cristóbal Rojas School of Visual Arts, Graphic teaching Center (CEGRA), theology at the Theological- Institute for the Religious (ITER), and participates in numerous lectures about History, Art Appreciation, Art critique and History of Aesthetic Ideas. In 1987 he held his first one- man exhibition entitled “Poetry of the Sacred” at Cuevas Gallery in Caracas. Since then his artwork has developed and managed to transcend local geographical boundaries, with one-man and group exhibitions presented in England, Germany, France, Switzerland, Monaco, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, United States of America, Sharjah and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, the Sultanate Oman, Tunisia, Colombia, Cuba and Ecuador. Hernández’s artistic idea enters different modes of religious expression, to end in a metaphor of the sacred that he has agreed to be defined as a Poetry of the Sacred. His creations are far from classical conceptions. They are linked to the valuation of religious emotion in closer proximity to an original vision of the world as sacred revelation, experienced as a mystery and never as knowledge. “Poetry of the Sacred”, “Ceremonial”, “Epiphanies” “Sacred scriptures”, “Ritual Scriptures”, “Enchantment”, “Devotion”, “Theophanies”, “Offerings”, “Spirit and Memory” are some names of exhibition projects since 1989
identify the artist’s intention to build a connection metaphorically sacred. His relationship with the transcendent denies any fidelity to a specific tradition or a particular doctrine and instead conceived as a culturally diverse and complex configuration. His artwork, expressed through paintings, assemblages, installations and books-objects is the declaration of a personal poetic spirituality is anchored in a universal sense. Signs and symbols from diverse cultures including Arab, Hispanic, Christian, Jewish, or from alchemy, magic, esoteric tradition or popular religion are combined into a “syntax” that calls for unity essential, evoking the whole idea of the notion of the sacred.
Chenonceau (France, 2009), “Fourth International Biennale for the Artist’s Book”, Library of Alexandria (Egypt, 2010), “ART BOOK in Archive”, Castel San Pietro Terme-Bo, Bologna (Italy, 2010), Latin Crash Civilization “. Peripherie-Art Galerie, Zurich (Switzerland, 2010). “Venezuela in Arts, 6ème Biennale internationale de l’art contemporain and monumental Marcigny”, Centre d’Art Contemporain Frank Popper (Saône-et-Loire, France, 2011), “Piccoli, piccolissimi, anzi grandissimi. Libri di piccolo format e libri d’artista “. National Library Braidense, Milano (Italy, 2012), “CENTO + 1. Libri d’Artista Micro to Macro “. Palazzo Trinci / Foligno, Perugia (Italy, 2013).
The artwork of Luis Alberto Hernández intend to establish ties between our earthly limitations and the infinite through an artistic discourse where the image acquire symbolic dimensions that refer to the ultimate essence of religion, picking through this search the longing for eternity, inseparable from the human conscience. It is a sort of personal philosophy, an elaborated within and from the praxis of creation that involves elements of the process such as inspiration and abilities; vital or existential circumstances (anxieties, illuminations); and ontological aspirations (What are we? What is the Sacred?). In this reflection of his, art is linked to a religious experience, since both disciplines of the spirit represent a response to the enigma of Creation. Art takes the seductive power of images, of religiosity, their capacity to go beyond the evident. Numen and image are, thus, the main elements of Luis Alberto Hernandez’s work. His Poetry of the Sacred unveils for us the persistence or the necessity of artistic elements (signs, symbols), and a firm conviction in an extra-logic potential (dreamt revelations, ecstasies, intuitions, rage). This artist evidently speaks of something more than the use of colors and lines; he refers to an unexplainable energy – unknown, but indisputable since human beings can conduce it magically. Magic is not only an energetic force. In the art context it is also a grace or gift that awakens prudence or enthusiasm among spectators, but never neutral reactions.
Renowned authors from different disciplines like: art historians, anthropologists, ethnologists, philosophers, psychologists, sociologists, writers and poets have written about his work. Among them are: Félix Suazo and Abdel Hernández Cuban art critics, Claudia Fernanda Barrera Colombian philosopher, the Art historian Argentina Cristina Rocca, the French art critics Gaston Diehl, L’Altrange, Jean-Louis Poitevin and Jean Philippe Mounier, Spanish Art Historian Gloria Bosch and Spanish Art critic Menene Gras Balaguer, Germans Arno Dopychai, Elizabeth Weisser and Gabriele Schäfer, Italian Father Alfonso Fausone, and intellectuals and poets of the Arab world: Zouzi-Chebbi Mohamed Hassen, Talal Mouall, and Ashraf Aboul-Yazit. Hernández was a university professor for over ten years in Art History, Drawing, Aesthetics and Visual-Art Elements at the Institute of Advanced Studies of Visual Arts Armando Reverón and the School of Visual Arts Cristobal Rojas in Caracas, Venezuela. Luis Alberto Hernandez´s artwork is displayed in:
Some of his most important one-man exhibits there are those at Cité Internationale des Arts Paris, France (1996); Konstanz University in Germany (1997); Wissenschaftszentrum in Bonn, Germany (1997); Centre Civic Pati Llimona in Barcelona, Spain (1999); Centre Culturel Jacques Brel in Thionville, France (2000); the Haus Völker und Kulturen Museum in Bonn, Germany (2000); at the Museum of Art of Gerona in Spain (2001); at the UNESCO in Paris, France (2002); the intervention of the Crypt of the Santa Eugenia Church, during the XIV Festival of Biarritz in France (2005); and the Cloitre des Billettes, Paris in France (2009). To exhibit his particular artistic interpretation of the sacred Hernández has been invited to participate in different international art events among which include the “4th International Arts Biennial of Sharjah” (UAE, 1999), “The World’s Longest Painting”, (Dubai, 1999), Muscat International Festival for Arts “(Sultanate of Oman, 2000),” Viatge i difference. “ Cathedral of Olot, Catalonia (Spain, 2001), “VIII International Biennale of Cairo” (Egypt, 2001), 120 artistes from 45 pays “. Cite Internationale des Arts, Paris (France, 2005), “XX Festival Internationale des Arts Plastiques of Mahrès” (Tunis, 2007), Venezuela Art Promotion. Cloitre des Billettes, Paris (France, 2008), “L’UNESCO s’expose à Chenonceau” Grand Galerie, Chateau de
Library of Alexandria. Alexandria, Egypt / UNESCO. Paris, France / Archive Libri d’artista. Milano, Italy / Collection of Latin American Art. University of Sussex, England / Cité Internationale des Arts. Paris, France / Diocesan Library of Cologne. Germany / Arts Fund Mahrès Festival, Tunisia / European-Caribbean Association. Konstanz, Germany / Bolivar Museum. Basque Country (Spain) / Museum of Fine Arts in Sharjah. UAE / Al Maja. Dubai. UAE / Royal Collection. Sultanate of Oman / Bolivar Hall. London, England / Embassy of Venezuela. Paris, France / BIV. Miami, Florida, United States / Casa de las Americas. Havana, Cuba / Museum of Contemporary Art. Caracas, Venezuela / Museum of Fine Arts. Caracas, Venezuela / Jacobo Borges Museum. Caracas, Venezuela / Museum of Contemporary Art Mario Abreu. Maracay, Venezuela / Museum of Modern Art in Merida. Venezuela / National Art Gallery. Caracas, Venezuela / National Cultural Council. Caracas, Venezuela / Central Bank of Venezuela. Caracas, Venezuela / National Library. Caracas, Venezuela / Private and corporate collections national and international.
LIST OF WORKS 1. Cover: From the Heavenly Journey, 2008, Mixed media and gold leaf on canvas 39.5” x 31.5
11. To ascend from the Centre, 2011 Mixed media and gold leaf on canvas 23.5” x 19.5”
2. Involuntary journey, 2006 Mixed media and gold leaf on cardboard 29.5” x 21.5”
12. Wholeness, 2011 Mixed media and gold leaf on canvas 23.5” x 19.5”
3. To Open the Gates, 2008 Mixed media and gold leaf on canvas 39.5” x 31.5”A
13. Sacred ties, 2011. Mixed media and gold leaf on canvas 23.5” x 19.5”
4. The path and its symbols, 2008 Mixed media and gold leaf on canvas 39.5” x 31.5”
14. Sublime experience, 2011 Mixed media and gold leaf on canvas 39.5” x 31.5
5. Essential Silence, 2009 Mixed media and gold leaf on canvas 25.5” x 21.5”
15. Nothing has been lost, 2006 Mixed media and gold leaf on cardboard 30” x 21.5”
6. Manifestation of the Divine, 2011 Mixed media and gold leaf on canvas 39.5” x 31.5”
16. So that the Word remains, 2006 Mixed media and gold leaf on cardboard 30” x 21.5”
7. Secret subtleties, 2009 Mixed media and gold leaf on canvas 25” x 21.5”
17. To return to Itaca, 2006 Mixed media and gold leaf on cardboard 29.5” x 21.5”
8. Labyrinth, 2011 Mixed media and gold leaf on canvas 23.5” x 19.5”
18. To retain their voices, 2006 Mixed media and gold leaf on cardboard 30” x 21.5”
9. From perennial Wisdom, 2009 Mixed media and gold leaf on canvas 25” x 21.5”
19. In connection with the Absolute, 2011 Mixed media and gold leaf on canvas 23.5” x 19.5”
10. Of Divine will, 2011 Mixed media and gold leaf on canvas 23.5” x 19.5”
20. Visions of Eternity, 2011 Mixed media and gold leaf on canvas 39.5” x 31.5”
Published on Dec 1, 2015