Ana Fernandez

Ana Fernandez – Real Estates and Other Fictions

Posted on November 05, 2016

By Bryan Parker
May 28, 2012

The work of San Antonio artist Ana Fernandez is stark and realistic, imaginative and surreal. In 2011, Fernandez described her art to the online Latino-focused magazine as “naturalistic and realistic with elements of the fantastic. Supermantural.” The artist in her own words provides as apt a description as anyone could.

The paintings that comprise the show Real Estates and Other Fictions, on display now at Women and Their Work gallery in Austin, TX, are based on Fernandez’s own San Antonio neighborhood. The installation itself emerges as a neighborhood of sorts. The small, framed gouache on paper works on display as you first enter the space are a well manicured lawn, lush and even, that beckon you deeper into the collection. Fernandez’s larger works of oil on cavas are simply breathtaking on first view. Her use of color is impeccable—the black shades are deep and the vibrant pinks, yellows, and blues found on cars and the siding of homes pop with vigor.

Oil is a perfect medium for Fernandez’s multi-faceted paintings, as the paint itself possess depth and complexity. Like a real life neighborhood, the paintings of homes seem innocuous at first, but hide their secrets in shadows, stillness, and simplicity. The outer placidity of the paintings, like an average American neighborhood, begs the question: what lurks beneath that veneer? For example, a police crime scene tape is almost lost in the horizontal brush strokes of the street in front of one of the homes, yet is prominently in the foreground.

Several of the paintings are titled with numbers, often house addresses, acting as a mystic numerology, as the numbers are found in tiny display within the works. The encompassing darkness and ominous spiked fence of “Lions” are as terrifying as the eerie bats flying atop “210.” Many of the paintings, such as “Caninus” and “717,” possess an uncanny symmetry, adding to the foreboding atmosphere of the world Fernandez creates. Even the title of the show (Real Estates and Other Fictions) possesses a contrasting dichotomy, as the opening pair of words implies not only houses, but houses that are real, while the second pair of words belies this idea, instructing the viewer that these representations are, in fact, fictions.

The components represented in Fernandez’s paintings also celebrate her culture and that of the neighborhoods surrounding her home in San Antonio. Especially artifacts of Latino culture, but also American pastimes, are depicted. Moon bounces and dogs stand out as icons that fit these categories, as well as the repetitive use vehicles, parked out front of most of the houses painted in the body of work.

Fernandez’s work embodies light and dark, the sublime and the occult. It simultaneously reflects and hides both the realities and secrets of not just her own neighborhood or ours, but of our own consciousness. The show runs through June 21, and is highly recommended. Drop by Women and Their Work at Lavaca and 17th and check it out.

Tags: #anafernandez, #art, #artexhibit, #womenandtheirwork

In eerie paintings by Ana Fernandez, a house isn't just a house

Posted on November 05, 2016

By Luke Quinton
Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Special to the American-Statesman

Ana Fernandez has a thing for investigating houses. Specifically, she has a thing for visiting the homes where murders had taken place: the house (surprisingly small) where O.J. Simpson's ex-wife was killed, the Manson house (where construction workers let her roam the grounds) and lesser-known homes whose stories caught her interest.

But Fernandez isn't a private investigator; she's an artist. There was something about seeing a house in person that gave her a truer idea of the place.

When she moved back to San Antonio after nine years in California, the front yards of Texas became her muse again, the way you could guess at a home's interiors by carefully documenting the decorations in the yard and the cars in the driveway.

"It's as if what's inside is coming outside," Fernandez says from San Antonio.

Her investigations do attract some attention, though. One man pulled up to see Fernandez framing his house in a photograph with some balloons.

"I got three balloons at a florist's and was driving around and found the house that had the exact type of light that I needed," Fernandez says.

"I'm an artist," she told the man.

The result of that streetside balloon study is a gorgeous and eerie painting that dominates a wall at Fernandez's new solo show at Women and Their Work.

Fernandez doesn't paint the yards exactly as she sees them — it's how she imagines them. From the light of those three balloons she painted one of those truck-sized balloon hearts. Its red and white balloons glow in exquisitely rendered light, left out to glow in the dark, long after the party's over.

"That painting in particular was about a relationship I had had. The house kind of symbolized it a little bit," Fernandez says. "It's kind of like a mirage."

Houses hold some of our strongest memories. We all know people who seem to form an almost symbiotic relationship with the home they've made.

"We were always moving around a lot as a kid. The only places that remained constant were our grandmothers' houses," Fernandez says.

"Maybe that's why I'm so obsessed with houses."

She grew up in Corpus Christi, and now, cruising through the San Antonio neighborhoods inside Loop 410, the homes she paints often remind her of her grandmothers' homes.

The first one that became a painting was "210," a painting of a bungalow and a car that, she says, "Kind of summed up San Antonio, rolled it up all into one." The car has the San Antonio area code (210) stickered on the back, and the words "Most Hated" in big cursive letters on the side.

The car really exists. After she'd painted it, Fernandez saw its owner, reaching for food at a What-a-Burger drive-through with "this manicured hand that had pink painted fingernails."

"I guess the car is so cool people hate on it," Fernandez muses with a laugh.

A house isn't just a house. Paint choices, flags in the window, slogans on the car, the look of dogs, the plants, statues and recycling bins, they all contribute, Fernandez says. "The soul of the house radiates out there and manifests itself in decorations."

This isn't documentary work, though. Many different elements become one composite of the house, with Fernandez's own penchant for evoking mystery.

And you won't find the owners of these homes. "I see the houses as portraits," she says. "Painting the people is a distraction."

"I kind of see (the houses) as a cinematic scene. I want the car to be the protagonist; I want the piñata to be the protagonist."

And that's exactly what happens. Two piñatas, a snowflake and a ghost, float ominously over one house. There is a yellow ribbon in the foreground that says "Crime Scene." Most houses are decorated with Christmas lights, which light up the eaves year-round.

They're subtly surreal. One home's lawn mirrors itself: two white cars, two dog statues, two oleanders.

In Texas, our vehicles are also a vehicle for culture, literally.

Fernandez operates a food truck on Alamo Street in the grand tradition of San Antonio's Chili Queens, a job that came to her after she lost her job as a riverboat tour guide. ("I had a little fender bender on the boat," she says.)

In her painting, there's a bit of Goya and a little David Hockney, but more importantly, there's a fresh look at Texas' front doors, and the mystery of what's behind them.

'Ana Fernandez: Real Estates and Other Fictions'

When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays through June 21

Where: Women & Their Work, 1710 Lavaca St.

Cost: Free

Info: 477-1064,