Observer article on Jake Fernandez lecture

Author: Selena Ponio

From the Observer article:

Artist and filmmaker Jake Fernandez gave a lecture in the Riley Hall of Art and Design about his artistic journey and current projects Wednesday.

Fernandez was born in Havana, Cuba, and received degrees from the University of Florida and the University of South Florida. He is best known for his durational art — artistic pieces that have implications of work done over time.

Kathryne Robinson | The Observer

“I have worked on things for 10, 20 and 30 years … building on one particular aspect or concept over a long period of time,” Fernandez said.

Fernandez talked about how his journey as an artist began in his early childhood and how he became aware of the power of provocation and two-dimensional work at an early age.

“My very first impression of the power of 2-D work was this very small black and white picture of Elvis Presley … in one of the national magazines,” Fernandez said. “It appeared almost animated.”

He said in high school the constant repetition of painting still-life pieces gave him an understanding of technique at a young age. He said it was intuition that led to the realization of his desire to become an artist.

“I don’t know that was something I strived for,” Fernandez said. “There was very little there to encourage me. I just had this feeling that that’s what I should be doing.”

He said musicians and their styles of music had more of an influence on him than artists and painters due to the complexity and understatement of their work.

“I would work in layers, one layer over the other, like [musician] Les Paul used to do with his multi-track recording,” Fernandez said.

During the premature years of his career, Fernandez worked exclusively with texture and black and white. He said he restricted himself to black and white for five years because he believed “color starts to immediately define forms” and he wanted to tackle certain layers individually.

“I decided to strip everything down and start working at one level at a time and try to understand painting,” Fernandez said. “I started working with texture to try and understand how that particular track felt and how it fit with what it was that I wanted to say.”

Fernandez cited “plausible reality” as a recurring theme in his works and showed how most of his pieces displayed images that varied in appearance depending on the distance of the viewer. For example, his Hidden Mandala project conveys a pixilated effect from afar, but can be seen as a composition of squares of laminated wood when examined close-up.

“Your mind is the one that connects those dots … you’ll see it in a very individual way,” Fernandez said. “What you see has a lot to do with individual perception, what you bring to it.”

The artist said many of his pieces involve layers and collages, best seen in his duration art which is a fusion of concepts thought of years ago, and current ideas and perspectives. Remaining loyal to his early discovery of the power of provocation, Fernandez said he drew inspiration from parks in New York City and the Florida landscape to create collages and other forms of visual art.

“I was interested in finding places that were very ordinary,” Fernandez said. “[I wanted to] turn it into something that was visually exciting and not just common.”