Thursday, 3 October 2019

INTERVIEW | Manuel Hernández Ruiz: Art’s a fluid that allows me to be alive

Manuel Hernández Ruiz
Manuel Hernández-Ruiz is a Colombian painter who holds a Bachelor from the School of Fine Arts at the University of Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Colombia. He has shown his artworks in 3 solo exhibitions in Colombia and South Africa and selected group exhibitions in Colombia and France. Since 2019 he resides in Athens, Greece. He has shown his works recently in an impressive solo exhibition in Athens, at Chili Art Gallery, titled "Mantra". 

Interviewed by Jason Kaerofylas

When did you first feel your calling to create art?
When I was a child I used to draw comics all the time, but I didn’t consider those drawings as “art”. I would discover that later at university.

Can you remember the first piece of art that you ever created?
A comic called No puro, no santo, No pure, no saint. It was about a demon hanging around in the streets with “undesirables”. The typical antihero. At that time I collected a lot of comic books and I was probably influenced by Jim Starlin’s Breed series.

Where do you find inspiration?
In everything: TV shows, internet, a hot dog laying on the floor, the political violence, etc.

What is your favourite colour and why?
I don’t have a particular favourite colour. I use them all.

What piece of work are you most proud of?
I guess I’m very proud of the drawings that I never show. Little pieces of paper with doodles and strokes. Basically with a lot of things happening in my sketchbooks.

In your works sometimes we find writing, maps, repetitive patterns: how do these elements contribute in your visual language? Should we perceive them as symbols?
I am particularly keen about symbols, signs, banners and flags. Also in old books, old maps, historical documents and so on. I find that in art history there are a lot of coded languages that are connected in an intrinsic visual imagery. I am an observer of those codes and I enjoy images and the stories behind them. I try to use those codes by creating my own personal visual language.

What is your art's mission?
Art’s a fluid that allows me to be alive, it keeps me going.

Is your art influenced by major art movements of today? 
The neo expressionist painters, comic book artists or the Japan’s neo pop artists. But also universal painters as Edvard Munch or Paul Gauguin. I think the whole art history has a major influence on me, from the Neolithic painters to the cheap candy packages from the present.

What is the significance of the series of artworks you have shown in your late exhibition in Athens within the body of your work? What are you currently working on? 
It was important to exhibit the "Gardens" in Athens, because it was my first body of work that was recognized by the public. Before, only friends, family and a small amount of people were witnesses of my artworks. The Gardens are a kind of universalization of my whole work. They are my most accessible exercises, so it’s a good way to start showing in a new society. I am currently working on several paintings and flags. Also on a book that I hope I can release here in Athens next year. I’m fortunate to be able to work from a distance with Bogotá, particularly on a publication which is displayed at the Colombian 45 th National Artists Salon.

A full CV of the artist can be found HERE.