Luis G. Hernandez is a visual artist, curator and educator who lives and works in Calexico, Southern California, and Mexicali, Mexico. He crosses the border sometimes several times a day to get from his studio and home in Mexicali to the Steppling Gallery at San Diego State University IV Campus of which he is the current director. His excellent exhibitions of mostly local artists (like the great painter Pablo Castañeda from Mexicali in the pictures below) there are well regarded by visitors of both sides of the U.S. – Mexico border.
Q.: Luis, how does the border influence your life and your work as an artist?
A.: The border has an intrinsic influence in my life and work because that is my experience, that is what I know. I was born in Mexicali and raised on both sides of the border fence, and even though I moved to Los Angeles to attend art school and stayed there for sixteen years, I’m now back in the border region where I grew up. I currently have my studio in Mexicali and teach at two colleges on the U.S. side as well as coordinate the art gallery of one of the colleges, so it is not uncommon for me (and for many living in the borderlands) to cross through the U.S./Mexico ports of entry twice, sometimes three times, on the same day. As a result, my work often points to the similarities and differences that exist on both sides of the border, and the bizarre but familiar feeling of being so used to navigate both places.
Luis G. Hernandez is the current director of the Steppling Gallery at San Diego State University IV Campus (he exhibited the great painter Pablo Castañeda from Mexicali at the time of my visit there, photos above).
Luis G. Hernandez is a visual artist, curator and educator who lives and works between Southern California and Mexico. Hernandez’ aesthetic production consists of sculptures, paintings, drawing, collages, and installations that respond in subtle ways to the space where they are exhibited. The artist makes provocative, humorous, and many times absurd associations between context, materials, and language, working through these elements as if they were sculptural spaces, and incorporating subject matter that points to art history, politics, and border issues.
At first sight, the artist’s work may look simple in execution and reception, but spending time with it reveals subtleties and intricacies in its production and reading. What can at one moment be seen as a political comment might at another moment shift to a poetic gesture- or be both simultaneously.
In 2006, Luis G. Hernandez and artist Ed Gomez co-founded the MexiCali Biennial, a non profit that grants exposure to artists and locations often overlooked in the contemporary arts of Southern California and Mexico. The organization came out of an ambitious DIY approach needed to bring a new context to artists working together, across racial and national divisions; and it remains to serve not only as a curatorial/art project, but also as a satirical platform upon which to question the abundance of biennials occurring around the globe and the impact they have on the art community. The last edition of the MexiCali Biennial took place in 2013 and was held at the Vincent Price Art Museum, Los Angeles; Jaus Gallery, Santa Monica; Mexicali Rose: Centro de Artes/Medios, Mexicali; and Facultad de Artes, UABC, campus Mexicali. Hernandez is currently working with the rest of the curatorial team in the next MexiCali Biennial programming which is scheduled for late 2017 and early 2018.
Solo exhibitions of the artist include: Luis G. Hernadez, Epicenter Projects, Joshua Tree (2017); A Temporary Thing, Artere-a, Guadalajara, Mexico (2016); Untitled #53, Proxy Gallery, Los Angeles (2015); Variantes, Robert and Frances Fullerton Museum of Art, San Bernardino, CA (2012). Recent group exhibitions include: Customizing Language, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Los Angeles (2016); Coleccion Elias Fontes: Historia y Relato, El Cubo, CECUT, Tijuana (2016); Punk Povera, WUHO, Los Angeles (2016); REVISION GLOCAL/REVIEW / BEIJING-TIJUANA 2012-2015, Cecut, Tijuana (2015); Acciones Territoriales, Ex Teresa Arte Actual, Mexico City (2014).
The artist’s work has also been exhibited at Kunstverein, Munich, Germany; Museo de Arte de Ciudad Juarez; Atelier als Supermedium, The Hague, The Netherlands; The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Artist Space, NY; Art Laboratory, Berlin; El Paso Museum of Art, among others.
Luis G. Hernandez is the current director of Steppling Gallery at San Diego State University-IV Campus and a part-time art faculty at SDSU and Imperial Valley College. He earned his BFA from CSU-Long Beach in 1999 and his MFA from Otis College of Art in 2003.
All images © Stefan Falke wwww.stefanfalke.com