PIEL ADENTRO

What is human existence? A finite, unknown, strange path…, dyed by chance, in different ways, according to the events we encounter in our daily lives, and where the winds of life take us. Sometimes, it is not a problem of natural selection, the way in which time is “designed” to walk the Earth for the millions of beings that inhabit it. It takes many forms, tones and can even change suddenly, for better or worse, always from the angle we look at it.

To cross the threshold of each person, to live with their intimacy, to know the secret of their truth, is to make a journey, skin inside, of their stay in this circumference that houses as many souls as men/women occupy it, which in the end, is a kind of giant nest that shelters us all. Taking the “sample” of a single existence, the DNA of a being, in such a large conglomerate of presences, does not give us the common reality, even though each and every one of us, in addition to his or her class, race, nationality,…, carries the “gene” -of which we will never be able to disengage-: luck. Without wheels or wings, it can take us, in a second, to different rooms, dressed with as many adjectives as there are adjectives. Life is, in a word, a mystery. To reveal it, in the plural, is impossible. Let us follow, then, the footsteps left by Nelsa, a woman among many. Located in a tiny space on the planet. Here is his truth, the one that Tony Hernández’s lens focuses on to give us his vital biography beyond the surface.

Camera in place, the artist, penetrates into the depth of his existence, and the lens reaches the inner. But a creator does not only capture that which is visible, but gives part of his being in each work. There is a mixture of feelings, experiences, desires, longings…, that are intermingled at the moment of the click – in the case of photography – and that are added as an intrinsic part of what is created. It is the special moment when a dream is “caught”?

Nelsa, for Tony Hernandez, it’s a new port touched in his work. After exploring the world of catwalks, lights, the shine of jewellery, glamour, in a word, in which he left his mark with the Camerinos series -which opened the doors to him, wide, to the universe of images-, he understood the breadth of human existence. And his daily struggle has been forged at different angles. It does not seek the beautiful, but what beats with man and woman everywhere. His creative prism is enriching an existential catalogue that fills visual pages. Nelsa, her neighbour, is part of a plural work: the series Mujeres. Its very title is synonymous with that which for the creator is his present path: life. Going through his door was magical. In each shot, at the moment of pressing the shutter, it discovers new memory slots. It brings us closer to a unique being in full dialogue with his ego, memories and realities.

Skin inside, because it penetrates into the depths of your being. He doesn’t portray Nelsa, he doesn’t look for her, he finds her sheltered in the most hidden places of his stays. She’s not the woman on the surface, that would be a repeat of a familiar recipe. When she confronts us with the woman, she gives it back to us, as can only be seen in the most genuine aspects of her daily life. It wraps her in memories that flutter around her home, and accommodates traces, traces, that are perpetuated in the images. It is, like that photographic process, when in the darkness of the laboratory the image emerges, submerged with the chemicals that will reveal it on paper, and suddenly it is filled with captured realities. That process traps Tony Hernandez in his work. To look at his creations is to feel the heartbeat of human existence. That’s why Nelsa is a story told in pictures. Little by little, the spectator gets to know the imprints of his journey, what sculpts it in fragments of everything that surrounds it, until suddenly it becomes the protagonist. The “naked”, in the best sense of the word, of that woman shaped by the vicissitudes of the daily struggle, the perpetual one in her environment, gives keys to her journey and to that which surrounds her in everyday life, her own and no other. Smell the corners with an inner feeling that is capable of finding beauty, lyricism, love, for those places where, for others, they cannot beat.

LIGHT AND SHADOW HUNTER

An unusual journey to the “centre” of man is made by Tony Hernandez, who has become a hunter of images that come in between the lights and shadows of life, as if poking around in an inner existence that emerges from the skin, translated into feelings and truths, and whose trophies reach us wrapped in shadows. Those that bodies or constructed things reflect as symbols of existence, traces of a reality that very few manage to see in the fields of life….

The supposed objectivity of photography, that is, the repetition that such an image is so real “that it looks like a photograph”, is nothing more than a fallacy. It happens this way because behind the camera, manipulating it, there is a person, with his worldviews, criteria, his way of looking and feeling. All this is fixed on the paper together with the photo achieved, which acquires tints of a sensitivity focused on the internal. Photography is often an aesthetic, social and cultural construction, just as an artist can do with a brush, crayon, spatula or gouge, but with a camera, in this case. His lens goes through rooms and collects details that make Nelsa. It is his personality dissected into parts of his being, which are not necessarily related to palpable reality. There is something mystical, inner, hidden in every man/woman that comes into view when you scan with the camera.

Looking around the exhibition, we come to the conclusion that they are images chosen for their “capacity to evoke uncertainty”, the undefined limits and contours of spaces, objects and figures that arise as symbols of concern and freedom in the broadest sense of the word, that which makes us see beyond borders, whatever they may be: formal, artistic, human, existential, real…

In recent times, and with much more force, there has been a shift from photography as a medium to photography as a vehicle for aesthetic and artistic concerns and questions. Reality continues to enhance the photographic image, but it has also become an autonomous and subjective entity with indirect meanings. This has resulted in changes in traditional reception codes. There are, in the work of the creator, palpable transformations: visual metaphors charged with numerous meanings, to the point that sometimes the notion of reality can be criticized; existential speculations; experiments, and even images that establish a real personality of the captured… It is that this art has been enriched notably, both qualitatively and quantitatively. Because from its traditional literality it has moved on to a subjectivity that expresses indirect meanings through the exploitation of the principle of the ambiguity of the image. The artist, through a selective process of real, ordinary or extraordinary events taking place in his immediate environment, constructs a new reality. Nelsa is real, she is there, surrounded by herself, because what moves around her is her multiplied, transformed into a space that she has made her own in time. It is, as if, capturing her surroundings, she portrayed her being, detached from herself. Ghosts? Objects? Sensations? Dreams? It is, in a few words, their theatre, the scenery of life, the place where they breathe their emotions full of anguish, sadness, joy, and many more that spice up life.

THE SOUL PORTRAYED?

By capturing the images, Tony Hernandez tries to lead us on his path. When it points to a detail of the body, it masks the real meaning of what it captures. They are sketches of the body, which, like a painter, he draws with the prism and his soul. It points to the hands, legs, feet, neck, arms and the reality is wrapped in an aura of lights and shadows where the essence of the portrait escapes to transform it into another meaning. He gloats over the image, extracts textures from the skin that is suddenly the earth that his feet walk on. We see one thing and another. Is it a map of the geography of the body? The story flows through the exhibition like words from a visual symphony that transmits feelings to us before each image. The vocabulary of the artist, who still keeps many guidelines for us to walk along these paths of photography, is nourished by words that sound within his being and encourage him to continue walking. Looking at Nelsa and her story, keys emerge: refuge, concepts, epidermis, introspection, time, space, regression, hope, patience, depth, love. They are the enigmas of one’s own existence, in each being, who take different paths, to unite again at the end, common to all.

She was the one chosen at this moment, within a conglomerate that he has rescued to speak about the human soul. It is, the impulse that moves and incites us, that chest that keeps the memories as testimonies, a hidden place, a truce of man where we can rest from what is real that attacks us at every moment. From the soul nourishes every step of our life. Nelsa is her and every woman we find in our path. Here divided into parts. As a woman and all that goes with it, home, thoughts, feelings. And the artist takes us through each one through approaches/defocus, lights/shadows, stings/counterpoint, realities/irreality…, going through which geography, those places he wants to highlight with an approach, a reflection, or a light that comes from a remote, strange place to surprise our retinas. She touches, for instants, the absence of man in the landscape, leaving the shadows as protagonists, other images are close to the abstraction, it is as if she takes the “soul” out of the bodies, from a subtle poetics of the absent, and delights even in plastic insinuations and transforms a real space into a still life that resembles a painting… Here lies Nelsa and all her characters, vibrations, extensions, mutilations, entourages… that pursue her..

Tony Hernandez still has a way to go, to retrace his steps, to investigate, to work. But there are plenty of weapons and talent in this artist who, with a firm step, is marking the path to follow. There is much more hidden behind life, as looks exist to express what words cannot say. Women is simply an excuse to see ourselves.

TONI PIÑERA

December 2016

 

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