Dan Hernandez presents a skewed understanding of mythology, religion and violence, enlightened by popular culture. He blurs boundaries, rearranges hierarchies, and calls into question our notions of iconography and devotion. Genres from the recent and distant past collide with ease. The mixed media works recall Renaissance and Byzantine art, and vintage video games.
The “Genesis” of the show’s title not only references the biblical Book of Genesis, but also the video game console Sega Genesis that was a defining moment of 80s and 90s pop culture. The Book of Genesis houses the creation stories: Noah’s Ark, Adam & Eve, etc. Similarly, Sega Genesis was a vehicle for narrative video games like Golden Axe, Streets of Rage and Altered Beasts. Both utilize the supernatural and mythical as a central and reoccurring theme.
Hernandez forms connections that are loosely tied together through visual dialog among two or more parts. For instance, the artist parallels video games like Street Fighter 2, a side scrolling, competitive fighting game by Capcom, with Early Renaissance paintings by artists like Simone Martini, Giotto and Duccio. Flattened space and exaggerated differences of scale were hallmarks of Byzantine art, but they are also at home in early Sega Genesis video games. Dan Hernandez’s “epiphany” was the realization that the iconography of early Italian art and emerging 80s pop video game culture were similar and interchangeable.
By transferring computer images to a physical surface and manipulating that surface into fragments, the work takes on a fresco quality that has survived the passage of time. While the digital nature of the process is evident, it is this guise of “age” that is the genesis of this artist’s creative approach.
“To imagine epic battles between heaven and earth, Dan Hernandez plants Super Mario Bros. clues in ancient frescoes and uses Donkey Kong architecture to create medieval fortresses. You don’t remember that part of the bible where saints and devils do battle with neon lasers and spaceships?…” Rebecca Robertson, ARTnews 4/15/14
Hernandez was awarded the Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award in 2011 and 2015. His artwork was included at Beit Ha’ir Museum in Tel Aviv, Israel “Immersion,” Southern Ohio Museum “Fast Forward to the Renaissance,” “Bad For You” curator Beth Rudin DeWoody in London, Lehman College Art Gallery “Under the Influence: the Comics,” Westport Art Center “Toy Stories” curator Helen Klisser During. Hernandez received 1st Prize at the Annual Chautauqua Exhibit of Contemporary Art in 2013 and 2010. His work has been written about and reproduced in publications in France, Germany, England, Israel, Austria and the US including in ARTnews, Hyperallergic, Spiegel Online, Gizmodo, and Arte Fuse.