ANA MARIA HERNANDO | Geometrías Tiernas
Jun 24 – Aug 13, 2022
Robischon Gallery is pleased to present its fourth solo exhibition for Argentina-born, Colorado artist Ana María Hernando. Known for her exuberant floral paintings, as well as her large-scale installations from a variety of handmade, crocheted or embroidered fabric forms, “Geometrías Tiernas” (“Tender Geometries”) offers a feminine rejoinder to historical movements in abstraction. In an organic response to the orderly mark-making of hard-edged geometric paintings, to the flatness and tension pursued within the Color Field movement, Hernando’s framed textile work and installations unapologetically contradict and embrace the inherent lavishness of her medium, alongside shared vibratory color and spatial concerns. With the artist’s textural “paintings”, her free-flowing dominant central artwork and her site-specific alcove installation, Hernando conveys that, “The fields of color, texture, and pattern develop through a single gesture – weaving tulle – repeated over and over. Tulle, as a prototypically feminine material, is transformed into a somatic and visual abstraction that breaks the field of traditional painting by producing a subtle matrix of light and surface that shifts in dialogue with the viewer. Softness becomes less a discreet quality and more a function of power, both formally and symbolically.”
Far-ranging in palette – hot pink, traffic-cone orange, vivid yellow, steel blue, soft mint and subtle oyster grey, Hernando’s bold and subtle color choices meet a sense of the delicate, as the material becomes radiant with light upon its undulating and curvilinear surfaces. Viewers are greeted by For All the Spaces in Between, a wide, sunset-like, three-layered sherbet-hued sculpture of varied plush tulle, intended by the artist to carry with it a kind of life-affirming, reassuring presence. The exhibition is anchored by the large-scale sculpture, We Cannot Weep Without Vibrating the Waters which begins high up on the wall with a more structured, set, broad element of yellow/olive green, followed by a massive multi-layered trailing of freely gathered blue and green-grey tulle cascading beneath – as a kind of voluminous river. This work is reminiscent of the series produced during Hernando’s year-long residency in France at La Napoule Art Foundation where she first developed this distinctive aspect of her personal visual language and where she amassed yard after yard of colorful tulle to cascade from the historic chateau’s second story windows. Hernando’s artworks are considered by the artist to be devotional objects, whether they are made entirely by her or whether they are intentionally guided and made in part by the hands of other women in her studio, as a collective act of the creative process. Hernando’s exuberant sculptures are directly aligned with the notion of abundance, as she says, “Abundance is the unstoppable force of life which transforms and moves forward in living things, no matter how humankind might evolve or devolve.”
Formally speaking, to select tulle as her dominant material, Hernando is well-aware of the ultra-feminine stereotypes of ballerinas and brides that the fabric evokes. Offering it as a means for unexpected, alternative interpretations, the artist chooses to revel in its mode of sculptural mass, the glazing effect of one layer over the other, and the potency of uncommon color. The accumulated fabric forms and Hernando’s intentional inclusion of studio assistants, connote strength though community and elides the more traditional interpretation of mass as a signifier of an aggressive force. Hernando relates, “During my childhood in Buenos Aires, I spent summers in my family’s textile workshop on the sewing assembly line and I also watched the Spanish women of my family come together to sew, crochet, and embroider, sharing the everyday with one another. These spontaneous circles of women gathering with a common purpose always held something magical for me, a power that was difficult to define but impossible to ignore. The community they built has no use for the ego of an individual, making way for the well-being of the whole as the focus. The things my mother and grandmothers made from fabric and thread were expressions of the communal spirit. All the beauty – the hours of work, the washing and ironing – became invisible, a setting for the table that would inevitably be laid and stained with food. In my practice, I explore these unacknowledged feminine forces of work as a prayer, searching for the divinity in the collective work.”
The artist continues, “This invisibility is not a coincidence, but an imposed silencing, stemming from the discomfort that patriarchal societies have had with the work of women for centuries. In my installations and sculptural works, I include the handwork of other women who reach back to traditions that survive through time: embroidered petals made by cloistered Carmelite nuns, clouds of tulle made by friends and volunteers at my studio, starched Peruvian petticoats from mountainous Quechua communities, and other artifacts of toil, exuberance, and creation. Using these seemingly soft daily materials, I want to reclaim the idea of what power looks like; to show that it is present in the unfolding of the feminine, unstoppable, and unconstrained.”
With a honed sensitivity, often enmeshed within the natural world, Hernando’s varied vocabularies throughout her career have always provoked a narrative that invites dialogue beyond the formal to also show a sense of wonder at the aliveness of being. In Cloud: The Birds are Praying for Us, a previous outdoor installation, a tulle umbrella-like sculpture fluttering in a wind-swept Rocky Mountain valley became a performance in celebration of the impractical; a tribute to ever fleeting temporal transitions in the natural world sited beneath a mercurial Colorado sky. Even with her current more formal exhibition “Geometrías Tiernas”, the titles reveal the true nature of the work. The vertical panel, La Tierra Me Canta al Oído (The Earth Sings in My Ear), engages with the gallery architecture by ascending from the floor and framing the passage to the next room. With a ruffled edge softening the corner in brilliant orange and pink twists of tulle, the work entices the viewer beyond as if to follow the song of the earth that the artist can hear.
There is a positivity and poetry to all of Hernando’s series including her more overtly political work. Whether it be to fill a gallery in the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, with a ceiling-high sculpture consisting of colorful starched petticoats crocheted out of necessity by the women the artist met in mountainous Peru, or an installation of tattered sandals at the Museo de las Americas to represent the diasporic journey of immigrants, Hernando finds inspiration in the beauty that surrounds her and the determination and the buoyancy of others.
In the spirit of the feminine, the importance of community and with concern for all humanity, Ana María Hernando wishes to share her multi-disciplinary work by, “using empathy to make the invisible visible. My art invites viewers to question our preconceptions of the other – including Nature and the earth – their worth, and their value. It is my deeply felt intention to illuminate the thirst of the heart, and what occurs behind the veil, the pattern and the labor of our lives.”
Ana María Hernando received a BFA from the California College of the Arts in Oakland, CA, and a BS in Education from the Profesorado Eccleston in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She also studied at the Museum School in Boston, and the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes P. Pueyrredón. Hernando was the 2020 Prix Henry Clews in Sculpture awardee chosen by La Napoule Art Foundation. She spent 2020 in residency and had a major solo show at the Foundation’s Château and gardens by the Mediterranean in France. She recently had solo exhibitions at the Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver, CO, the CU Art Museum, Boulder, CO; BMoCA at the Present Box; Seidel City, Boulder, CO; Robischon Gallery, Denver, CO; and Building Bridges, Los Angeles, CA. Undomesticated, a documentary about her work by Amie Knox from A bar K Productions premiered in May of 2018. In the Summer of 2019, Ana María constructed a temporary billboard installation out of tulle for Downtown Denver, CO. Other solo shows include the MCA Denver, the Tweed Museum of Art, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, BMoCA in Boulder, CO, the International Center of Bethlehem in the West Bank, the Oklahoma Contemporary and the Marfa Contemporary. Hernando is the S*Park Resource Artist at Redline in Denver, Colorado until the end of 2023. She has been nominated by Nora Burnett Abrams, PhD, Mark Falcone MCA Director, for 2024 Women to Watch, Colorado Committee for the National Museum of Women in the Arts and is the recipient of the First Prize for the Biennial of the Americas 2021 Covid-19 Memorial. In 2022, a collection of Hernando’s diverse works will be shown at the Sun Valley Museum of Art in Ketchum, Idaho. She has also been nominated to apply to the Joan Mitchell Fellowship and Anonymous was a Woman Award. In 2023 Hernando, as the recipient of the Boedecker Path to Excellence Grant, will present a community collaborative performance at the Dairy Art Center in Boulder, CO. Hernando is part of “Gardens: Collaborations with Nature at the Sun Valley Museum of Art through August 20, 2022.