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

210
Ana Fernandez

"210," oil on canvas by Ana Fernandez, and the artist in her studio

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(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.

 

 

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Thursday, May 5, 5 p.m.

String Project Spring Concert

This end-of-semester concert will feature the 3rd through 8th grade students who have participated in the UTSA String Project this year. The event is free and open to the public.
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Friday, May 6, 8 p.m.

First Friday Stargazing

The UTSA Department of Physics and Astronomy, Curtis Vaughan Observatory invites everyone to join them for their monthly stargazing event on top of the Flawn Science Building.
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Sunday, May 8, 1 p.m.

Accordions Across Culture

May’s Free Second Sunday at the UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures features "Accordions Across Cultures," with performances of Mexican, German and Czech accordion music, a documentary screening and crafts for the kids.
UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures

Monday, May 9, 8 a.m.

The Honeynet Project Workshop

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Master of Public Administration Open House

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Saturday, May 14, 10 a.m.

UTSA Spring Commencement: Ceremony One

UTSA Spring Commencement ceremony for the College of Architecture, Construction and Planning, the College of Education and Human Development and the College of Sciences.
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Saturday, May 14, 4 p.m.

UTSA Spring Commencement: Ceremony Two

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Sunday, May 15, 2 p.m.

UTSA Spring Commencement: Ceremony Three

UTSA Spring Commencement ceremony for the College of Engineering and the College of Liberal and Fine Arts.
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Wednesday, May 18, 3 p.m.

The Great Staff Appreciation Event

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Thursday, May 19, 6 p.m.

Superintendent Certification Program Information Session

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