One of the most dynamic painters of his generation, Secundino Hernández is celebrated for a spirited enquiry into the language, history and enduring potential of abstraction. New works made especially for this presentation continue his investigation into the vocabulary of painting – line, form, gesture and colour – and historical classifications of the medium – action and colourfield painting – to create images that, radiating a sense of urgency, explore not only their own process of creation but our responses to a painted surface.
For Hernández, painting is both a physical and cerebral activity, a conduit for intellectual and philosophical enquiry.Whether employing strong linear elements, by turns painterly or calligraphic, or rich bursts of colour, his work corrals diverse influences within a signature abstract language, often collapsing traditional distinctions and hierarchies. In Hernández’s hands, a monochrome might also be an action painting, while an action painting might, on closer inspection, reveal itself to be an almost archaeological excavation of the picture plane.
These latest paintings pivot between spontaneity and improvisation, action and reflection. Foregrounding colour and gesture through a process of partial erasure, the resulting works have a dramatic, exploratory quality and openly display the triumphs and challenges of the artist’s practice. Discussing the tension between calculation and spontaneity in these works, the artist says: ‘When the works succeed, I see a dance between pictorial languages and a balance between something which is very much under control and something else which is accidental.’ The use of the word ‘dance’ is key. Rhythms – variously turbulent, lilting or exuberantly waltzing – impress themselves both within and between the works on view.
Writing about Hernández’s work, Oliver Basciano notes that ‘Within the parameters of his unique process, there is a mad freedom to Hernández’s paintings, one that operates beyond the restraints of authorial control… For the viewer, the artist’s surfaces feel kinship with the turbulent mark-making of a JMW Turner seascape… Hernández’s work evokes the same loss of control as one is submerged into the painted surface, a sublime overwhelming, a surrender to the elements and all the scarring that brings forth.’