After staging many and varied exhibitions over the past few years, Secundino Hernández (Madrid, 1975) is presenting the first of his shows to be completely dedicated to work on paper. Entitled Mi primera corrida, it takes place at the Galería Heinrich Ehrhardt.
Far from being conceived as a compilation of works produced on that surface over the years or a collection of sketches and minor works that, in the output of painters, sometimes even have anecdotal value, this is a particular and focused exhibition in which the authentic protagonist is paper. Here, paper has replaced canvas as the predominant place on which to deposit new charcoals and watercolours rather than oils and acrylics.
Like many other painters throughout history, Secundino Hernández has always had an intense relationship with age-old techniques and the most time-honoured materials used in painting. His commitment to knowing and experiencing them has led him to take this turn towards that which is most basic: that place where mistakes and corrections are not possible. In this exhibition, there is an incessant search for the most precise and judicious mix. A mix that has little to do with colour and form considered as aesthetic methods and more with that true chemistry of unguents, formulas and potions, now fallen into disuse, and the use of this chemistry in the arts. Among several large-scale charcoals and an extensive series of highly delicate watercolours produced on artisanal and irregularly shaped paper, each one of which is unique and special, the painter discovers his most recent pictorial stimuli, which, having supported all of his earlier painting in the form of structure and composition, now emerge to reveal a new appreciation of light and time.
In these new pieces, the painter has wandered around territory which, despite seeming familiar (his constant trials and sketches on paper indicated as much), has turned out to be a virgin working eld. Experimenting with and testing out the use of an imprecise and indomitable charcoal and re-educating his hand by immersing himself in the nuances of the materials has resulted in a style of painting that is absorbed in its own task, drawing in the same way a poetics of subtle and overwhelming meaning. Black-and-white; naked forms and lines; and distances and intensities that make up the new tempo of a painting of pure truth.
This same spirit has also guided the other part of this exhibition, which is made up of various pieces that take a legendary precept as their starting point: the twenty colours used by Paul Cézanne in his watercolours. Aside from one of them (white), Secundino Hernández has revisited these same colours as if embarking on an archaeological expedition. The use of vanished techniques and colours triggers a fascinating re-reading of a form of painting that is now forgotten and irreproducible. By taking Cézanne’s famous range of twenty colours as a starting point and revising them in the present, the artist has produced a series of watercolours that, in the purity of the pigment, seek to revive the authenticity of one of the most luminous techniques in the art of painting.
Thus, a model of discourse can be perceived in these works that relates to what might be de ned as a poetics of materials. The emergence of new techniques results in new constructive, formal and aesthetic formulas. The particular idiosyncrasy of the paper, light, shadow and chiaroscuro of charcoal or the dragging and sliding of the watercolour open up new veins in his painting. Artifice and colour and everything that, through the use of these elements, resulted in a tremendous and vibrant form of painting under the sway of the gesture and a cosmic composition of tones and ranges of oil, now becomes radical and concrete. As in the work of many great nineteenth-century painters, space is replaced by the idea of time. With no masks, disguises, traps or cardboard, what you see is what there is: charcoal, watercolour and paper.