Gonzalo Hernandez


In his multifaceted art practice, Gonzalo Hernandez (M.A. painting; M.F.A. fibers, 2019) culls from personal narratives related to contemporary dilemmas like labor, identity, and success and failure. His work in installation, sculpture, painting, photography, and film is highly particular to his perspective as an immigrant, while also addressing broader cultural associations. Eliminating the distinction between art and life, the artist considers many situations and materials, no matter how banal or quotidian, as viable for inclusion in his work. From relief sculpture formed by cardboard found on factory floors to iPhone photos of shopping lists quickly scribbled on his hand, the artist finds truth and meaning in the overlooked. Daily encounters with text, language, and material become fodder for symbolic interpretations.

Signature image for Gonzalo Hernandez exhibition
Gonzalo Hernandez, M.A. painting; M.F.A. fibers, 2019, "In" (left) and "Out" (right), photographic prints, 40" x 40" each, 2020. Courtesy the artist.

The context of the SCAD Museum of Art Alumni Gallery is an important frame for the development of Hernandez’s exhibition. While a student at SCAD, the artist frequently visited the exhibition space and witnessed the impact of the museum’s alumni exhibitions on the careers of his peers. With this history in mind, he thoughtfully intervenes in the space through works that speak to his academic lineage, his development as an emerging artist, and his questioning of the role of the artist. Hernandez’s influential time at SCAD is alluded to in the painting ):) (gracias Todd), 2020, in which the artist pays tribute to SCAD painting professor Todd Schroeder, a major influence on his work and a recent artistic collaborator. Hernandez created the painting with the distinct Tyvek material that Schroeder employs as the substrate for many of his paintings, yet Hernandez subverts the clean surface of Schroeder’s work by selecting the branded Tyvek used for construction and stamping it with other brand names and the emblem “Made in the U.S.A.”

Elsewhere in the exhibition, visitors encounter a reproduction of the pattern on Pink Panther insulation foam, aptly titled PPP. The Pink Panther foam converts the usually pristine gallery space into a worksite, a nod to Hernandez’s ever-expanding practice as well as his position as a young artist. Frequently employing both real and simulated building materials in his work, Hernandez draws parallels between his experience as an entity “in progress” with sites of construction and labor.

Much like the signs and symbols the artist wields in his work, Hernandez moves beyond standard text with the exhibition title, ):). This symbol represents both the frowning and smiling emoticons, depending on the direction it is read, and is a stand-in for the feeling of mixed emotions. While considering the impact and importance of this solo museum exhibition as a major step in his life, Hernandez reflects on his mixed emotions of staging it during a moment of global upheaval and instability. His excitement to breach this stage as an artist is met with trepidatious feelings about the future of his career, of institutions, and of the world.

About the artist

Gonzalo Hernandez (b. 1991) lives and works in Kansas City, Mo., and Lima, Peru. His work has been exhibited internationally, with recent solo and group exhibitions including Sorry Not Sorry: posiciones, disposiciones y oposiciones, curated by Max Hernandez, at CCPUCP, Lima; The Artist as Muse, curated by Ariella Wolens and Ben Tollefson, at Gutstein Gallery, Savannah; Celebrating Georgia Artists of Hispanic/Latinx Origin at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, Atlanta; F.F.A. Corp at Hen House, Savannah; Java at La Vitrina de la Officina m20 Hotel Savoy Lima; Threaded, curated by Mark Newport and Maria-Elisa Heg at MCC Art Gallery, Mesa, Arizona; and A Paris a Lima at Alianza Francesa de Lima. Hernandez was part of the first Chuquimarca residency program in Chicago in 2020. He holds a B.A. from Escuela de Artes Visuales Corriente Alterna.

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