Thu, 27 Apr 2000

Columbian artist goes abstract at National Gallery

JAKARTA (JP): Manuel Hernandez is quite possibly an unfamiliar name to most Indonesian art lovers -- he is a contemporary art maestro from a country as far away as Columbia in Latin America.

To find out more about his distinguished works, local art buffs are now able to view some 35 of the artist's works, which are currently on display at the National Gallery, starting from Thursday (today) through May 4.

The exhibition, entitled Paper and Signs, characterizes a production of signs and abstract elements. Hernandez experiments with handmade and recycled paper instead of canvas.

His works represent the high values of modernity. In other words, the artistic arguments based on aesthetic experience by itself and on the artistic originality arising in visual art with the beginning of the impressionism and its expansion into the 20th century.

Born in Bogota, Hernandez studied in the Esquela Nacional de Bellas Artes de Bogota and in Santiago de Chile. His work has appeared in various joint and innumerable individual exhibitions and has received all the distinctions conferred on art in his native Colombia.

He continued his studies at Rome's Fine Arts Academy and at the Arts Students League in New York. His works have been exhibited in many cultural centers around the world.

The artist's pieces belong to the world of pure abstraction. They have a theme different from that of naturalism, and look into the freedom of colors for complete expression.

His production emphasizes the importance of creative activity and expresses the spirit of Colombian society, of its will to experiment and take risks, of its fascination with with color and of its desire for harmony and concord. It is abstract work, but its forms bring characters to mind and enable the observer to understand that creation is not merely a manner of expression, but also a means of communication capable of transmitting humanity's most cherished ideals.

The Ambassador of the Republic of Columbia Luis Fernando Angel said that many Asian people have little knowledge of the development of fine arts in Columbia.

The exhibition will enable the Indonesian public to know the culture, and especially the development of fine arts, in Columbia.

Colombian fine art development has deep roots in Spanish arts in terms of trends, techniques and subject matters, as a result of its colonial history.

But in the 20th century a group of progressive artists introduced works representative of international trends and several became world famous. Alejandro Obregon initiated the modern movement, along with Fernando Botero, Eduardo Ramirez Vilamizar and many others.

Manuel Hernandez is one such contemporary art master who combines the random results of experimentation with a background of concepts such as fate, flow, the infinite and indefinable, which offer an idea of the magnitude of his achievement, as he grasps notions that are not only abstract but also incalculable and eternal.

The artist's first steps were in figure-work. His work today is eminently abstract and works from geometrical figures such as the oval and the ellipse, with which he has composed certain signs as part of his personal alphabet. Even if his starting point is relatively strict, the artist gives his forms a certain spontaneity, with absolute freedom, enabling him to express through color, execution, scale, location on canvas and relations between them, realities which have no tangible form but are less real for being intangible, such as suspension, tension, contact, balance and equilibrium. The coloring of his work varies widely, but has always been harmonious and muted -- the atmospheric impression that the backgrounds produce is emphasized by the edges of the signs.

In addition to Jakarta, the exhibition will also travel to Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Hong Kong, Macau, Manila, Sydney and New Delhi. (raw)