Antonio Hernández: Art Saved Me
By Glenda Arcia
What happens behind the scenes moments before going onto the runway, introspection before facing the public, fears, personal conflicts. All these are captured by Antonio Hernández’s lens in dressing rooms, an exposure that puts aside superficial beauty and aims to uncover individual mysteries.
Even when theatrical nuance marks the pictures, the young Cuban photographer prefers to give way to spontaneity and show a more humanistic, sensitive and comprehensive view of the art of modeling, sometimes seen as somewhat frivolous.
The restless creator does not follow the on-stage woman but rather goes in search of the one who walks the streets, who carries the weight of the years and the hardness of life, who has a different kind of stage at home, with other characters and scripts.
Here a journey surges into the past, the feelings and desires of Nelsa, who represents any elderly woman from a city, a country, a continent.
From the canons of beauty imposed on the catwalks to the simplicity and complexity of the human condition, the photographer makes a journey which not only transforms his work, but also himself, as part of a process of maturing and development.
“I’m a sommelier, but I left gastronomy and wines to go into art, first for commercial reasons and then because of a personal need. I started taking pictures of fashion shows and jewels, but then came a time in which I decided to work on subjects I was discovering, that I was thinking of “, he confides.
“After I registered for the Cuba’s Union of Writers and Artists’ workshops, I started to concentrate on my projects and by 2015 Camerinos (Dressing Rooms) was ready, a series that I continue to refine and expand. Almost all of the images included in it are spontaneous, the models did not pose for me, in fact I kept a distance”, he says.
Hernandez expressed his preference for black and white, the use of lights and shades, close-ups, a selective approach and the careful handling of the portraits and details.
“In Piel I work with a single person, a 70-year-old woman. With her I make a journey through memory and go beyond the surface, entering her inner world. I didn’t just want to reflect beauty, but rather bring to beauty some realities that others might address in a cruel and brutal manner. Through this tranformational process I also changed.”
“In almost every photo of Nelsa, her hands are shown. I cared about every detail, skin textures, settings. She is someone who has had a difficult life. I wanted to talk about the woman through her, that people see her and become interested in her story”.
“I think that there is a great mystery within each individual, each of whom is a totally different universe. I look for spontaneity that the public can feel as as if they were inside a theater or meeting an elderly woman, interacting with her and looking to understand her,” he asserts.
Hernández also deals with his interest for skin, not only human but that of objects in general. “Through graffiti and murals I try to reflect how man influences the city’s skin, worn and eroded by the hands of time. It is something I have been working for the past two years in Cuba, Colombia and United States.
“I also have a project about memory and memories of my childhood. I am the subject of this work, but I don’t focus on self-portraits but rather objects from my childhood. I try get back to those times and immortalize them”.
Tony, as his friends call him, says he demands a lot of himself and is always seeking perfection in his pictures.
“I am a young photographer, but I am ambitious and I hope to reach the best spaces, both in and out of my country. I want my children to be proud of my work, that when people see my snapshots they stop and dream, as I do. When I stand in front of one of my pictures, I forget everything in the world, and start to travel. This is how I save myself. Art saves me and gives me strength to continue creating”.