Ana Fernandez

Our Art Criticism Interview: Ana Fernandez

Posted on November 05, 2016

Interview: Ana Fernandez
by Darrell Roberts
June 22, 2011

Can you tell us about your education background, where you lived and went to art school?

I received my BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and my MFA from the University of California at Los Angeles. Prior to that I’d taken lots of drawing and sculpture classes at San Antonio Community College, where I now teach.

What did you get most out of your education and how were the two schools rewarding and different?

As an undergraduate at SAIC, I learned how to paint. The first oil painting I did was a still life: Diet Coke and a plate of white rice (with eggroll) from Sonny’s Cafeteria. It was terrible. During my senior year, I chose to take advanced figure studio classes, rather than independent study, because I wanted to work directly with Susanna Coffey and Dan Gustin. I learned so much from them.

Whereas, in comparison, UCLA was like a paint bomb in a bag of stolen money that went off in my face.

Who did you work with at UCLA?

Most influential to me were my primary advisors, Nancy Rubins and Lari Pittman. I worked with others as well. UCLA was difficult. I stopped painting during the second year and started making large-scale collages in preparation for my thesis show. Although I had gotten mixed reviews from faculty, the show sold-out. Very shortly thereafter the legendary Patricia Faure gave me my very first show at her gallery in Santa Monica.

Can you describe your studio practice?

”Studio practice”. That sounds so tedious. My schedule allows me time to paint every day, but I don’t. I spend a lot of time doing other things that support the work. I get my best ideas while driving around, for example.

What are your favorite painting tools and techniques?

Oil paint is my favorite. But, gouache (opaque watercolor) is a very close second. I love the matte finish that a gouache painting has. I like to describe it as ”liquid pastel” because that’s what it feels like to me. I love it because its difficult.

When is your next exhibition?

I have several projects scheduled for 2012, including a solo exhibition at Joan Grona Contemporary Art and an exhibit at The Institute of Texan Cultures, both in San Antonio, TX.

http://www.ourartcriticism.com/interview/ana-fernandez-painter/

Hither and Thither: A Curatorial Juxtaposition of Environment vs. Aesthetics

Posted on November 05, 2016

By Gabriel Diego Delgado

Hither and Thither
A Curatorial Juxtaposition of Environment vs. Aesthetics
Artwork of Darrell Roberts and Candace Briceño

-San Antonio, TX. Hither and Thither, a two person exhibition at Joan Grona Contemporary Art Gallery that opens Sept. 1, 2011 and runs through the month is the brain-child of Guest Curator and San Antonio talent, Ana Fernandez. Her first guest curatorial endeavor, Fernandez eloquently weaves a web of playful pictorial deceit with a color and theoretical apposition of environment acting as leading contextual elements in a comprehensively critical and analytical exhibition. Working on several conceptual levels, Hither and Thither takes the viewer through an overwhelmingly quantitative world of heavily textured paintings divvied with incongruously drawn and dreamy, Neverland-channeling artworks.
Darrel Roberts, inspired by the ever present construction-site landscape of the “Urban” spread of Chicago, creates works of art that successfully attempt to capture that unrelenting buzz and hum of the inner city Chicago heartbeat. On the other hand, Magic Hat #9, a drawing series is a composite of 24 works on paper that metaphorically mimics the late evening and nocturnal sensibility of rural Vermont. Fernandez couples this visual display of pure painterly emotion with a new and fresh, but border-line poignantly playful and garishly distorted Wonderland-esque landscapes by Austinite Candace Briceño.
Taking all aspects of view-ability into account, Fernandez captures a kind of curatorial cornucopia, doing justice to these two unique artists by finely walking the ultimate and questionably ethical art based curatorial role of when does the “organizer” stop being a Curator and cross that hampered line to Installation Artist. Fernandez’s ability to analyze audience demeanor plays a concrete role in her aesthetic decisions of how and why to hang the overall exhibition. Working with 50 plus paintings by Darrell Roberts, Fernandez’s decision to anticipate a right to left viewing enabled her to think conceptually and intuitively when hand-picking the individual paintings. Then expressively designing an exhibition wall composition reminiscent of what she visualizes as a whimsical explosion of a dandelions blowing in the wind; a concentrated curatorial effort to display an asymmetrical but fairly random alignment. This is all achieved by building up the arrangement of canvases to a larger cluster of overpowering and multi-layered cityscapes, popping in very small and randomly placed paintings. These miniscule artworks are subtly different than their immediate company, in that at their core they exist only to capture a few moments in time when the artist’s eye rests for a minimal amount of time on arbitrary peripheral elements like building facades, water reflections, horizons and other miscellaneous banality.
Roberts makes sure we are all well aware of his coveted artistic lineage to the historical forefathers of Abstract Expressionism-with his deliberate color soirees; emotionally driven abstract paintings that take on aspects of sculpture, but hold true to a two dimensional security. Roberts comments on his ability to “condense the Macho Man” of the Abstract Expressionist era and micro-size the scale, but maintain the signature expressive attributes of overall composition and gestural flare.
Featured on the right wall of the gallery, Candace Briceño’s art has trouble holding ground to such adjacent color explosions. However, her minimally hued agave sculptures convey an organic responsiveness to the exhibition; that up until now was an absent artistic contribution. Her simplistically brilliant and ephemeral sense of nature is only reinforced by her material choice. Felt, a fabric lending itself to a distinct look and feel is the perfect selection for sculpture- albeit an entirely opposite characteristic of the real deckled leaf features of this native plant. White, with one color accents, these carefully constructed Oldenberg-ish sculptures are a breath of relief and a much needed visual break in this color saturated environment.
On pedestals placed through-out the gallery sit Briceño’s mushroom sculptures; eloquently contrasting the garish and gritty paintings of Roberts. Potentially threatened by his overpowering and parasitically pigmented painterly pieces, Briceño’s clean linear seams and meticulous constructive qualities of the fungi prove to be key components that highlight the artist’s intention on overall presentation. Evident is her intuitive understanding of artistic gestalt; fluid are her aesthetic decisions concerning such cartoony and suggestive low-brow subject matter.
Solidifying this first curatorial effort is Ana Fernandez’s choice to create a visual juxtaposition on the immediate left wall of the gallery space. A wall never used to capacity previously, Fernandez is able to maximize spatial limitations while creating an environment that changes the meaning of both artists work into a curatorial derived environment. Roberts’ drawings from the Magic Hat #9 series make up a pictorial grid- now construed into a visual assimilation of an all too familiar skyscraper facade. Systematically placed in front of this wall is the larger of two agave plant sculptures, titled Agave #1. Now more decorative landscaping and curb appeal aesthetic than artist owned imagery, this Austin based sculptor’s intent is assimilated into an overall visual cue- organized by one curator’s vision.
In the end, a one local’s curatorial revelation plays a solid hand against two poker faced artists, each grappling with a hidden sense of communal acceptance and environmental analysis; eluding to a distorted but inviting artistic paradise.

Critique: Paintings by Ana Fernandez create hybrid of South Texas culture and surrealism

Posted on November 05, 2016

Intern, UTSA Art Collection

By Lenora Weakley

March 9, 2011

Ana Fernandez subtly, but surely captures a bit of the old masters into her contemporary work. Fernandez creates a hybrid of South Texas culture and surrealism. The artist recently showed a series of oil paintings at the Joan Grona Gallery in the Blue Star Arts Complex.

Fernandez' eerie mood is inspired by Goya, but the artist's methods for rendering a mysterious sensation are her own. Fernandez uses a great amount of contrast, greatly appealing to one's curiosity. Several paintings show houses decorated for festivities, but there is no one there to celebrate, a house is painted in a cheery palate, but just above it ominous birds are rising toward the sad sky. Along with using juxtaposition, the artist's technique is crucial to creating a theatrical tone.

There are more than enough clues to start a narrative, such as a clock in an odd place by the door, a crime scene ribbon across a harmless looking home, a window where there is a picture of a ship on a stormy sea. A puzzling, yet incomplete, storyline is part of the works magnetism. The effects seem effortless, but without the sensitive attention to detail the somber mood of the work is compromised.

The work's atmosphere is reminiscent of surrealist de Chirico. Both painters capture a sense of loneliness, a desolate setting. The lack of figures or people in Fernandez' paintings makes one wonder where everyone has gone off to. What has happened to make everyone disappear? When asking the artist why there are no people she replied that she "did not want them to become the focus of the paintings."

The decision to leave people out has a strong effect on a spectator, the result being a fervent feeling of the enigmatic and wanting to investigate more. Whether it is the lack of people or a highly individualized landscape, there is an air of something missing. While the yards are sprinkled with remnants of inhabitants there is an inescapable feeling of absence.

Yet Fernandez' series does not invoke a sense of impending doom per se; the work is not so much dark as it is cast in shadows. Yes, there is a chord of slight melancholy, but not without a definite note of humor and playfulness. Christmas lights hang from the houses, but it's the wrong season; Spurs posters are up, and two dogs attempt to part ways after a brief "romantic" encounter.

Fernandez has taken elements of romanticism and surrealism incorporating them against the setting of South Texas, bringing out a side of the city where the ghosts are apt to dwell playfully. These paintings promise something new with every visit. The work charms you, draws you in and allures you, all the while never revealing its secrets.

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The recent show of works by Ana Fernandez at the Joan Grona Gallery was curated by Arturo Almeida, archivist of the UTSA Art Collection.

Pranking perspective: Fernandez’ larger paintings approach Magritte’s doorstep

Posted on November 05, 2016

 

By Scott Andrews

February 9, 2011

Ana Fernandez makes her local debut at Joan Grona Gallery this month with large oil paintings in which cars and houses sit in a neighborhood that promises the familiarity of home but delivers a rather uncanny air drifting through the trees. If you often happen to live in paintings, the wind shouldn’t blow too harshly.

Fernandez has exhibited paintings from this series in Chicago and Los Angeles, where her scenes depicting San Antonio residences were read as filled with brujaría, a bit of Latina witchiness. The oddly shaped balloons and floating creatures are riffs on figures that the artist has taken from Francisco Goya’s Black Paintings, a group of ghoulish works done after the atrocities of the Napoleonic Wars had rendered the artist a bitter old man. Under the guidance of Fernandez, however, the warnings of doom have more a Halloween or Día de los Muertos appeal, and seem to tease the viewer with impending pranks that won’t harm. Dark scenes are theatrically lit, dark rings around Krieg-lit centers hone the eye to find jokes that the painter has made to herself, like the word “Goya” written slanted on the front of a house.

The biggest prank, however, is Fernandez’ messing with aspects of perspective, enhanced by double vision. She has placed what seem to be two gray iron dogs between columns of leaves in what should be the foreground of the painting Caninus. They are rendered a bit fuzzy, out of focus, countering convention and fuddling with the illusion of depth. The twin cars in the middle space appear strangely crisper, reversing expectations of the near and the far. It is subtly done, however, as both the two dogs and two white cars, twinned in absurd opposing pairs, dominate the scene, a hint that this is not a painting of your mother’s house, but perhaps might be René Magritte’s doorstep.

Fernandez uses symmetry to buffo effect in other paintings, too. A house seems folded in on itself, two more twin cars are joined by matching windows with hearts; even the sky is mirrored down the center.

In contrast to the oils, small gouache works display a quick, deft hand that hints of glamour and a commercial sketch at photorealism. The style would work well with upscale advertising copy. The oils eschew this display of flash, often figuring small details in a smear. Trained at The Art Institute of Chicago and UCLA, Fernandez, who was born in Corpus Christi, has recently returned to Texas from Los Angeles. She has also taken up again her peculiar style of realism after a sojourn in California abstraction that helped net her MFA. The paintings in the show are pleasing enough — she had almost sold out before the opening — but hopefully Fernandez will not allow her work to halt in what is certainly a signature style. Enjoyable painting, it seems to promise yet more.

Ana Fernandez: New Paintings

Free

Noon-5pm Tue, 11am-5pm Wed-Fri, 11am-6pm Sat

On view through Feb 28

112 Blue Star

(210) 225-6334

joangronagallery.com

Lady driver: Ana Fernandez

Posted on November 05, 2016


Plaza de Armas Culture/Features
by SARAH FISCH

03 FEBRUARY 2011

"When I left LA, it was on fire," Ana Fernandez says as we eat sandwiches at the Blue Star Brewery before she heads back to finish last-minute installation details at Joan Grona Gallery. All but one of the paintings in her First Friday show already bear red "sold" dots.

"Driving on I-10, you could see the mountains in the distance, smoke trailing off them. You could see flames."

She laughs out loud at the metaphoric heavy-handedness. "It was just a couple months after an earthquake, and I told [my now-ex-girlfriend], 'Are you sure you don't wanna move to Texas? It's not safe here.'"

Fernandez earned her MFA in painting from UCLA in 2004, but didn't make it back home until September 2009, just after the record-breaking heatwave that exhausted our city. She'd left a city she thought she would die in, she loved it so much: the climate, the diversity, the sense that "I fit right in. When I lived in Venice Beach, I could wear rags and be happy."

After grad school, Fernandez got embroiled in a relationship, and a job with a postage company as a screener of sorts, making sure that when customers designed personalized postage, it didn't contain images of the Unabomber, Monica Lewinsky's infamous dress, or other inappropriateness.

"Mostly I was approving puppies and kittens," she says, "but occasionally there'd be some white guy, and I'd have to research to make sure he wasn't somebody controversial."

Fernandez has a way of unspooling her past with deadpan humor.

She enrolled in UCLA after getting a BFA at the Chicago Art Institute. In Chicago, she recalls, she lived in a neighborhood she didn't know was dangerous, because she moved there in winter and "it wasn't until spring when things started to thaw out that the gang members appeared."

She's passionately opinionated about her work, art in general, her family, her city, social constructs, and her career, but her anecdote delivery borders on tannic dryness. There's the one about Grandmother Fernandez, who gave her a Ouija board despite the strictly anti-occult beliefs of her mom's more religious family. She also gave little Ana an Avon-made, pistol-shaped cologne container she kept between her couch cushions. She had Ana aim it cop-style at the front door to ward off intruders while Grandma visited the store across the street.

"She threw an entire [container] of holy water at her cat, too" Fernandez muses. "She said, 'It wouldn't stop staring at me.' But it was a black cat with two white spots above its eyes ... the holy water got all over the TV, the VCR ... "

Fernandez's dad is an electrical engineer who moved the family from Corpus Christi to San Antonio when Ana was 16; her mother, a pre-K bilingual school teacher, is also a visual artist. The Fernandez family lived with her full-wall mural of a jungle scene, which included "tigers, snakes ... she made the snakes seem biblical, which was ..." she considers a second, "interesting to grow up looking at."

She has loved to draw and paint cars, in particular, since she was 6. They represent identity, aspiration, value, self-expression, "and are individual, almost like people — they have some kind of living energy." The first images she remembers making were of now-vintage 1970s vans with murals on their sides. She can still tell each one of her aunts what kind of car they drove, and when.

She graduated from Roosevelt High School in the Breakfast Club era, and took jobs, mostly on the River Walk, as a waitperson and a San Antonio river barge driver, while studying with the mighty Willome, Pritchett, and Susan Witta-Kemp at San Antonio College, where she now teaches.

And there are traces of Fernandez humor in her meta-realistic, subconscious-infecting paintings. Take her Joan Grona show — you'll see her highly accessible, immediately recognizable portraits of humble, one-story San Antonio bungalows, bedecked with balloons or Christmas lights, with a car or cars, naturally, parked out front. But there are details, such H-E-B shopping bags wrapped around shrubs or the Spurs logo in a window, that act as local in-jokes. One of Fernandez's cars bears the area code 210 in a swirly pink font, and a legend on the side reading "Most Hated." It's based on a real car; Fernandez has seen it around town. She assumed it had a male owner, but then found herself behind it one day at a Whataburger drive-in, and saw a pink-manicured hand emerge from the window.

She tends to photograph specific structures, trucks, and other details and then composite them later into one painting. Each work is realistic but, upon close inspection, loosely painted, with a tricky surface brushstroke she changes to express either solid line or quick motion; in one painting, a canopy of linear winter branches explodes into a furious flap of birds.

She went through a collage period in Los Angeles, during the latter part of her three-year MFA program, splicing together parts of other paintings she made, creating graduated bands of color made of refrigerators, say. She got her first one-woman show as a result but decided, against the advice of some friends, to return to her earlier preoccupations and fully inhabit them. She'd developed a realistic technique back in Chicago, sometimes bordering on photo-reality. She's since abandoned attempts at photorealism because "what's the point, then, of it being a painting? I want people to see the paint, to take in the layers, and the surface," but she knew the subject matter she wanted to focus on. She knew this had to happen in San Antonio.

"In Los Angeles, you'd see a certain landscape that would be interesting to paint, and think 'that looks familiar,' like you'd seen it before. And you had seen it before; it was in movies and on TV."

So call Fernandez's San Antonio paintings a highly personal form of regional landscape, or architectural still life. They document man-made scenarios with human touches all over, but remain strangely uninhabited. With this void, Fernandez effects a couple of things. "When you paint [people], there's always the notion of whether it looks like them, and i don't want to get sucked into that." Also, it heightens the sense of mirroring and the meta-real; Fernandez' scenes "aren't completely realistic. I want them to appear like a hallucination."

One unsettling large-scale painting shows a house shrouded in hedges, with two stone dogs facing each other. "It could be a witches' house," says Fernandez, who counts Goyas' The Flight of the Witches as an inspiration for another painting, in which a gaggle of pointy-hatted piñatas hover above a roof. Another unlit house is framed by a white-and-red balloon heart, which references both San Antonio's exuberant public face, our love for celebration and knack for rasquache decor, and something deeper, darker, and more ambiguous. It's an implied narrative that could be affectionate, or terribly wrong.

"Anybody can gain access to the images," she says. "Somebody will look [at the paintings] only as San Antonio houses, others will read and project much more into them."

Arturo Almeida and UTSA present Ana Fernandez
Opening reception 6-9pm Thu. Feb. 3
Joan Grona Contemporary Art
Through Feb 26

UTSA and Joan Grona Gallery present exhibit of paintings by Ana Fernandez

Posted on November 05, 2016

Fernandez painting

"717," oil on canvas by Ana Fernandez

Intern, UTSA Art Collection

Feb. 2, 2011

UTSA and Joan Grona Contemporary Art will present the detailed, mystical paintings of Corpus Christi native Ana Fernandez this month at the Grona gallery.

>> Free and open to the public, the exhibit runs Feb. 3-26. An opening reception, free and open to all, is 6-9 p.m., Feb. 3 at Joan Grona Contemporary Art.

Curated by Arturo Almeida, art specialist and curator of the UTSA Art Collection, Fernandez' paintings capture everyday scenes in neighborhoods in Corpus Christi and San Antonio. Her work utilizes a realistic yet fantastical element and style that complements the quotidian yet magical culture of San Antonio.

According to the artist, the painting series features some of her favorite subjects including magic, true crime, paranormal activity, sex, murder, occult, mythology, witchcraft and superstition -- all set in her hometown of Corpus Christi. Her attention to detail will strike a familiar note with San Antonians and others from South Texas.

Born in Corpus Christi, Fernandez moved to San Antonio at age 16 with her family. She received an M.F.A. from UCLA and a B.F.A. from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has presented numerous exhibits across the nation and currently lives in San Antonio.

Joan Grona Contemporary Art was established in 1992 and is in the nationally known Blue Star Arts Complex. Representing local, national and international artists, the gallery fosters an understanding and appreciation of art in a friendly environment through exhibitions, lectures and guided tours. The gallery collection includes a broad range of innovative, original artworks by established and emerging artists.

Joan Grona Contemporary Art is in Blue Star Arts Complex Suite 112 at South Alamo and Probandt streets in San Antonio's Southtown district. Gallery hours are noon-5 p.m., Tuesday; 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Wednesday-Friday; 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday; and by appointment (call 210-225-6334).

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>> Visit the UTSA Art Collection website.

Little Houses That Make Big Statements

Posted on November 05, 2016
February 1, 2011

Since Ana Fernandez's grandmother died in 1991, the artist has had a recurring dream.

In it, she is compelled to return to her grandmother's home - recently demolished - in Corpus Christi.

"I feel like I forgot something, and I need to go in there and get it," Fernandez says.

Homes and what their exteriors both reveal and conceal about the inhabitants are a source of fascination for Fernandez, and the subject of a series of paintings. An exhibit of her work opens with a reception 6 p.m. Thursday at Joan Grona Contemporary Art, 112 Blue Star.

Curated by Arturo Almeida, it is Fernandez's first solo show since she moved back to San Antonio a little more than a year ago. Though she previously had one-woman exhibits in Chicago and Los Angeles, where she attended the School of the Art Institute and the University of California, she considers this her first real solo show "because it's the first one where I'm really happy with my work," she says.

The exhibit includes 15 works, including oil paintings and graphite drawings, of houses, particularly modest, weathered casitas such as those typical of San Antonio's West Side and South Side barrios.

Works such as 210, a nighttime image of a 1940s-style wood structure where Halloween and Christmas decorations, a Spurs banner and a pair of mating dogs chronicle the passage of time, are imbued with a sense of the unseen occupants' presence.

"I kind of see them like portraits," Fernandez says of the paintings and drawings. "It's a traditional landscape but also kind of a portrait of the house itself, maybe the people that live there. Maybe something that's inside kind of comes out."

Fernandez, who teaches drawing at San Antonio College, works from photographs. She sometimes conflates details of different houses and adds fictional elements to create a narrative. In 717, for example, Fernandez incorporated a red-and-white, heart-shaped balloon wreath into the image of a small house illuminated solely by Christmas lights and a carpet of stars visible through bare tree limbs.

"I like to think of them almost as backdrops, like landscape backdrops to some kind of story or drama that's happening," she says.

Home for Fernandez is a Southtown duplex with high ceilings that she shares with a 100-pound pit bull-mastiff mix named Smoky and a dark brindle French bulldog named Geeta. Her living room, which doubles as a studio, is dominated by large canvases and metal shelves holding supplies, including glass jars of murky thinner with thick layers of paint sediment at the bottom.

Originally from Corpus Christi, Fernandez moved to San Antonio when she was 16. After high school, she attended San Antonio College before leaving to go to school in Chicago. After graduating from UCLA with a master's degree in painting in 2004, Fernandez intended to return to San Antonio. She stayed in L.A., however, after she landed a job "that I couldn't leave" screening images for a custom postage web business. Fernandez was laid off in 2009 when the company eliminated her department.

"It was actually the best thing that possibly could have happened to me because I moved back here; I started painting this series; I got a great job at SAC, which I've always wanted to work at SAC," she says. "I mean, everything has gone great."

 

lsilva@express-news.net