Rodrigo Hernández, Flux of Things (Astronaut), 2023; Hand hammered stainless steel; 180 × 180 × 5 cm
Reminiscent of haiku, Rodrigo Hernández’ works (paintings, sculptures, reliefs, installations) are lyrical explorations of most intimate moments of human relationships and the metaphysical states of mind. For Kestner Gesellschaft’s facade, the artist has conceived a silver tableau at a confluence of his narrative language and the modernist grid of the architectural pattern. Meditative and sublime, Flux of Things is a horizontal storyboard of the everyday and mundane, composed of a sequence of loosely connected images that combine the nocturnal and the daily, peacefully unfolding as the passerby walks along. A man lying on a hilly shore, contemplating a river flow, its stoic current and the fish, swimming; a tree on a quiet night under croissant moon, with a bat, starring anxiously though harmlessly, an ambitious figure; a face, a mask, a persona – occupying the centre of a discontinued narrative; a hand holding a rose, an offering, a dedication; a cosmonaut levitating in the galaxy; a butterfly and a giant cat, descending the staircase; an old-fashioned watch and a couple of lovers in embrace, time passing idly; meanwhile, a snail moves slowly along the lover’s leg; silence and calm are haptic sensations in a monochrome universe of Flux of Things, the agents of melancholia and longing, a temporary escape. Welcome to Rodrigo Hernández’ forest of signs, a subversive allegory of turmoil and uncertainty.
The tapestry of narrative gestures Flux of Things floats above the main entrance to the building of the Kestner Gesellschaft, imitating a frieze on a glass facade of a contemporary architecture, squeezed between two historical parts of an early Jugendstil, along a busy traffic street. Composed of 40 square segments of thin silver metal sheets, Hernández’ mural mesmerises with the smoothness of the surface, its glare, embracing daylight and the sunshine, its airy appearance and lightness of a passing cloud. Flux of Things is an act of masterfully crafted subtlety: a simplified drawing carefully curved on a polished, mirror-like, reflective membrane of a metal layer, like a paper cut-out, rendered on the verge of visibility, an origami of sorts, an evocation of the archetypal… As a talented storyteller, Hernández is a diligent dreamer; his Flux of Things is a reverie, a phantasmagoria, an airy scenario indeed, an encrypted confluence of a magic realism and a visceral realism, generously offering a spatial and temporal suspense, between fiction and fantasy, with a poetic intensity of a momentous withdrawal but simultaneously of a permanent affirmation of a deranged world of here and now. For Roberto Bolaño, the visceral realism is “a love letter, the demented strutting of a dumb bird in the moonlight, something essentially cheap and meaningless”, or in other words, “a philosophy of the remainder, of remains, of incomplete burials, of forms of life animated by forces of death (and vice versa)”, an ultimate (and probably most vicious) circulation of mental and corporeal matter, a flow of disconnected particles in a disenchanted universe of a failed science. Hernandez’ protagonists are “assistants of the void” in search of a once nonchalantly abandoned meaning and belief in the grand narratives of human thought and nature.
Photos by Marjorie Brunet Plaza