Internationally Renowned Contemporary Mexican Artist Debuts First Solo Museum Exhibition in the United States
SAN DIEGO – The San Diego Museum of Art presents Sergio Hernández: Embers of Oaxaca, an exhibition by the Oaxacan contemporary artist Sergio Hernández, on view November 12, 2022 – February 12, 2023. The first solo museum exhibition in the U.S. for the artist, the showcase features more than 30 large-scale paintings and mixed-media works with motifs drawn from the iconography of Hernández’s Indigenous heritage and wonders of the natural world, including native species of southern Mexico, Pacific Ocean marine life, and constellations of the night sky.
Among the most renowned Mexican artists of his generation, Hernández follows in the tradition of fellow celebrated Oaxaqueños Rufino Tamayo and Francisco Toledo, while his use of local materials such as sand and cochineal (the beetle-based red pigment developed before the Spanish conquest by Indigenous artists and subsequently exported around the world as the “perfect” red) tie his art-making practice to important local and Indigenous traditions.
Hernández builds upon the traditions and imagery of fellow Oaxaca-based artists, while also creating work that is more wide-reaching in its global affinities. The parallels between Hernández’s art and that of historical and contemporary figures, including artists of the CoBrA movement in post-WWII Europe, Jean Dubuffet, or such Neo-Expressionists as Francesco Clemente or Jean-Michel Basquiat, are palpably observable. Emerging from this larger context, the work of Sergio Hernández enters into a wider international dialogue with some of the key figures of twentieth century artists on both sides of the Atlantic.
“Oaxaca has a rich and vibrant history in the arts, and we are elated to welcome yet another incredible artist from the region to our Museum,” said Roxana Velásquez, Maruja Baldwin Executive Director and CEO at The San Diego Museum of Art. “Sergio Hernández: Embers of Oaxaca is an exquisite collection of works that are complex in technique, diverse in materials, and profound in storytelling.”
Highlights include a recently completed series of five mixed-media paintings on gold leaf, which will debut to the public for the first time as part of this exhibition. Traditional resources prized during pre-Hispanic times and during the Spanish viceregal era, gold and silver materials carry great significance among Indigenous cultures of Mexico and Central America. Scenes on gold leaf depict an array of insects, animals and human forms, reminiscent of cave art and inspired by ancestorial stories. Additional highlights of the exhibition include bold, monumental red and blue compositions that have an otherworldly, magical quality representative of fantastic realism. From vivid colors to black and white, textured with sand or smoothed with gold leaf, this landmark exhibition features an impressive range of media and thought-provoking themes.
After completing his studies at Mexico City’s National School of Painting, Sculpture and Printmaking (“La Esmeralda”), where Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo both taught, Hernández gained international recognition after exhibiting his work in France, Italy, Germany, and Spain. His iconography often reflects his Indigenous heritage, and that of his native region of Oaxaca, including the pre-Hispanic cultures of Mesoamerica.
Sergio Hernández: Embers of Oaxaca is curated by Dr. Michael Brown, Curator of European Art at The San Diego Museum of Art. A variety of programming and events will complement the exhibition, including this year’s Axline Lecture, which will take place on November 14, 2022 featuring Hernández and Roxana Velásquez in an evening of conversation. The Axline Lecture is presented annually by The San Diego Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego to recognize the extraordinary bequest by Rea and Jackie Axline to both institutions in 1999.
About The San Diego Museum of Art
Providing a rich and diverse cultural experience, The San Diego Museum of Art houses some of the world’s finest art. Located in the heart of Balboa Park, the Museum’s internationally renowned collection of more than 20,000 works–dating from 3000 BC to present day–includes Spanish and Italian old masters, South Asian paintings including the Edwin Binney 3rd Collection of Indian paintings, East Asian art, American art, and Modern and Contemporary paintings and sculptures. The Museum regularly features major exhibitions of art from around the world, as well as an extensive year-round schedule supporting cultural and educational programs for children and adults. It hosts engaging experiences that invite visitors to explore art through music, dance, film, food, and so much more. The Museum also offers Virtual SDMA, a variety of online experiences, including the SDMA app, Masterpiece Minute podcast, virtual performances in collaboration with other local arts institutions and more. At The San Diego Museum of Art, exhibition text is always in English and Spanish.
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