Rodrigo Hernández

ChertLüdde
Ritterstrasse 2A
September 15, 2017–November 11, 2017

Rodrigo Hernández, Eva, 2017, oil, acrylic, wood, papier-mâché, 12 x 14 x 7".

Where is this beloved Eva, whose name is incorporated into the title for Rodrigo Hernández’s current exhibition and serves as the namesake for each work within it? She is in the past: a onetime lover of Picasso, who inscribed her name on a piece of gingerbread in his 1912 collaged painting Guitar: “J’aime Eva.” There’s something cruelly comedic, of course, in etching one’s love into a cheap edible, destined to go stale. Hernández’s show converts this spirit of perverse amour into a series of relief paintings—done in oil, acrylic, wood, and papier-mâché—that radiate Cubism’s influence without disappearing into it.

In Evá, 2017, a green parrot sits in profile, its body broken into curvy chunks by a slender brick chimney. Both bird and object are grounded by blue within a sharp ellipse, red-edged and reminiscent of a distended Lucio Fontana slit or, for those with a Freudian penchant, certain anatomical features. Outside this circumference, it’s all midnight blue, except for some white lines suggesting a grand cosmic schema. But loftiness is drained from the picture by the parrot’s silliness—one dotted eye stares blankly—and the work’s shoebox dimensions, which suggest an extremely well-crafted children’s project.

Another piece called Eva, 2017, finds a square support broken into a few angular planes. A single black spot could be an eye, and yellow and brown sections could be sandy hair. But it’s hard to know; the work is comically myopic, like a mashed cartoon. Dotingly executed, such works evidence Hernández’s ability to circumvent the smothering power of his own modernist references. Throughout, his cubist paraphrases are rendered in a storybook aesthetic, heightened by a band of blue painted across the gallery wall, like rising water. The exhibition expresses a strange desire not just to play in the theater of artistic inheritance, but to sally forth with the prescribed artistic roles provided therein.

Mitch Speed