1970 Cuba, lives and works between Düsseldorf and Havana

Galerie Michael Wiesehöfer

Line Dreamers Solo exhibition at Haus im Süden c/o Boucherie

here will be always a fundamental confrontation between an object and its drawing, the same kind of confrontation that can occur in between the idea and the words that express it. This confrontation happens not only in an abstract form it happens as a real fact, bringing the object to exist in a permanent disappointed reality, a reality that can’t be as perfect and ideal as a drawing is. ‘Line Dreamers’ is just a thought that pretend to transform a second hand furniture shop into an unexpected overlaying of objects and drawings. I can’t define yet what came first – The drawing or the object? and maybe ‘Line Dreamers’ could help me to find out.   HAUS IM SÜDEN c/o BOUCHERIE Design des 20. Jahrhunderts Mauritiussteinweg 74 D- 50676 Köln. Öffnungszeiten: Fr 13 – 9 h; Sa 11 – 16 h /  info@marc-boucherie.de / Tel. 0221-80158800 /  www.marc-boucherie.de / info@galerie-wiesehoefer.de Tel. 0221-2706885 / www.galerie-wiesehoefer.de ...

Museums: Selected works 1996/2010 Solo exhibition at Galerie Michael Wiesehöfer

“REVANTGARDE” by Anke Kempkes n the 1990s Diango Hernández started an extended series of drawings which processed the political and economical crisis of Cuba after the collapse of the socialist systems in Eastern Europe. ’We lost the last support of the Sowiet Union, which meant confronting a big crisis. We knew about Perestroika and everyone was concerned: What was the political mistake? But the big confusion over the rising ecomomical crisis was soon predominanting. And then, inevetably, the daily life was taken over by the struggle for survival. (…) At the same time I began to make this big mass of drawings out of what was my personal point of view of the crisis. I did self-portraits, illusionary architectures and cities, projects which are never going to be realised.’ Coming from a backgorund of industrial design Diango Hernández formed the collaboration Gabinete Ordo Amoris with his friend Francis Acea. The artists collected everyday objects which were provisionally produced out the last resources people could get hold of. These objects were astonishing creations and they were the manifestation of a highly independent and individual reaction towards the broad circumstances of devastating poverty. IF THEY TAKE THE LIGHT AWAY I’ LL INVENT SOMETHING TO LIGHT MY HOUSE “These objects, pragmatic and strangely sculptural, had a special melancholic beauty, – they were products of a moment of dramatic transition’. Diango Hernández recognised their importance documenting a very particular chapter in Cuban social history. But the cheer anthropological activity of collecting seemed not to be satisfactory for his artistic sensibility and his understanding of the role an artists could take in this process. In his eyes a far more adequate tool, the activity of drawing functioned for Hernández as a political diary and positioned the artist in accordance with the new urban productivity which grew out of the daily needs. His artistic practice resonnated the perception of the crisis. ‘I was acting artistically out of a collective consciousness. Havana was a backdrop, a big landscape of mistakes. (…) I did it at home late at night and of course I could not tell this to anybody. In a modest and quiet way I began to comment on circumstances, places, opinions that poeple have. (…) They were hidden in my place without exposure which was actually in a way also a living condition of each of us. You can see some flashes from outside but what is really counting is what is happening inside. And it was happening in every family in every place. My practice was a document – writing, commenting, drawing -, the most sophisticated strategy for me.’ ARTE ES REVOLUCION In his drawings Hernández transformed the objects from the street into utopian configurations. They gain a new life of their own, morphing into numerous possibilities of self-structuring. Often these biting sceneries imply a self-portrait. Depicted in deliberately naive ways which remind of Chagall or Picasso, the face of the artist is suddenly attached to the body of a horse or another creature of a kind, chimeras carrying a mission, using the disguise of the animal as a subversive strategy. Hernández regarded himself at this point as a medium of the political constellation surrounding him, while it became equally important to him to stage his individual position and emotionality right in the center of the little universe he created in his obsessive ‚automatistically’ produced body of drawings. In actual fact he started to call his entire practise „drawing“, be it a complex installation, a sculpture or an accidental trace on a piece of paper. PASSION IS THE MOST SUBVERSIVE BEHAVIOR IN CAPITALISM BE SURE BEFORE BEING SURE BE LOST BEFORE BEING LOST BE IN LOVE BEFORE BEIG IN LOVE ‘After a while I had thousands of drawings in my house and I decided to come to Europe. Now I had something to say about what is a circumstance. It was a big testing to present them in the European context. They were not exotic items, no phantasy, rather they belong to a specific social history.’ However politically invested these drawings are, there is always this other phantastic side to them. Hernández’ iconography subtly relates here back to the narrative inventions of Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier. In his manifesto on The Marvelous Real (Lo real maravilloso) from 1949 Carpentier rejected the ‚pointless’ imagination of the Surrealists for not being rooted enough in reality. For him the tropics with all there exotism, erotism and anti-colonial struggles constitute the ideal surreal imagination. MORE TROPI CALS REVOLUTIONS In his novel The Kingdom of This World Carpentier re-enacts the time of Haiti’s liberation from French colonialist rule, a period of unsurpassed brutality, horror, and superstition. The ancient slave Ti-Noel becomes the key-figure, the leader of an a new type of guerrilla, escaping his prosecution by transforming with the help of voodoo into the bodies of different animals. HOW COULD EXIST DEMOCRACY IF WE ARE SLAVES Diango Hernández’ use of romantic and phantastic motifs in his drawings is an attempt to formulate and enable a new position in contemporary art which owes a lot to the specific political and historical background he comes from. The disturbing presence of the conventional, icons of beauty and desire in his works are propositions for a future which is open to a strong imagination also in the realm of the political. ‘These works are subversive in a subtle way, because there is beauty implied in each of them. And I really like to keep it as a key for making communication possible through them. I am not interested in inventing something new, in pursuing a style or trend. I use the existing languages of art, through which something can then be read. In my opinion it does not make sense anymore to work in avantgardist categories. Particularly when it comes to architecture and urban structures artists tend to take it on as a language of the contemporary. I once choose the term ‚revantgarde’ to define my practice. Of course, it’s a risk ...

Losing you tonight: Flying Memories Solo booth at FIAC, Paris with Galerie Michael Wiesehöfer, Cologne

tories about Loss in Darkness by Eva Schmidt. Found furniture, found images and found texts are relics with the power to conjure memories. Functioning as a communicative link between the artist and the viewer, they represent both material and tool for Diango Hernández; he uses them to construct his poetic narratives expressing mourning and loss. Diango Hernández views the museum as a dark and lonely place: the rooms here are filled with enchantment, enigma and ambiguities, with mysterious found objects arranged for the solitary viewer who wanders between the eras, beyond factual reality and yet inseparably connected to it by negation, by severance. Born in 1970, Hernández grew up on Cuba and studied industrial design in Havana at the beginning of the nineties. A short time later, however, he realised that what really interested him was artistic work – solitary work that no one had asked him to do. In those years, as we all know, the world’s political blocks crumbled and Cuba’s trade relations with the Soviet Union collapsed. “Special Period” was the term coined for this new epoch, in the hope that the economic crisis would prove exceptional rather than lasting. Times of radical change tend to sharpen our observation; the ability to interpret inconspicuous details becomes necessary, so that we can comprehend changes and new circumstances. Everyday objects – and functional, technical and decorative furnishings and fittings – unfold magical powers in times of transition. For those who can read them, they represent the material from which stories can be woven – personal stories that may reveal more of the truth than official pronouncements. The starting point of the exhibition Losing You Tonight is the memory of an event in Diango Hernández’s life: for the artist, the violent death of one of his fellow pupils just before school graduation threw a lot into question. Some weeks later, Hernández found a short text written by that boy; it was about his first encounter with art, in a very specific place, the museum in Havana. There, reality – according to the description in this text – was completely invalidated in a huge sense of timelessness. Hernández associates the memory of his friend’s death and the finding of this text with recollections of a school system that left little scope for the development of individuality. He takes up these various threads to weave a story using the means of art. He combines ideas about everyday representation, about the differing presence of official ideology in private and public spheres – and about the darkness in which objects disappear to make room for immense emptiness. Hernández has created a series of atmospheric spaces for the exhibition Losing You Tonight, conceptualizing darkness and the disappearance of the present into memory in an enigmatic way; spaces in which the borders between fiction and reality are blurred. He also asked friends who are curators and theorists to write a short, personal story triggered by the idea of darkness. They continue Diango Hernández’s own working method, weaving a personal and open view of the darkness from which dreams emerge. ...

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