Dan Hernandez’s 2012 exhibition title “Genesis” refers to the artist’s visual dialogue of religion, mythology, and pop culture. Hernandez blurs boundaries, rearranges hierarchies, and calls into question our notions of iconography, collectibles, and devotion.
The title not only references the Book of Genesis, but also the Sega Genesis, a video game console that was a defining moment in pop culture, especially for those in the artist’s generation. The Book of Genesis houses the creation stories: Noah’s Ark, Adam & Eve, etc. Similarly, the Sega Genesis game console was a vehicle for narrative games like Golden Axe, Streets of Rage, Altered Beast and others. Both have narratives that utilize the supernatural and mythical as a central and reoccurring theme. By embracing such eccentric comparisons, the artist explores the unique and interesting possibilities that exist.
In his creative process, Hernandez forms connections that are insightful and playful, but historically incorrect. The associations 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. This allows him to combine things that would not otherwise be combined, resulting in intriguing fictions and inventions.
Despite the definition of Genesis (the coming into being of something: the origin) that communicates the sense of the “new,” its association with biblical text conveys a sense of the “old.” The juxtaposition drives the imagery, which weaves together contemporary and historical sources. By transferring computer images to a physical surface and manipulating that surface, the work takes on a fresco quality. While the digital nature of the process is evident, it is this guise of “age” that solidifies the work and it is these anachronisms that are the genesis of his creativity.
Dan Hernandez was awarded an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award for 2011.