Geometries of comfort

/ 1 June, 2018

In his extensive sociological-philosophical production, Georg Simmel, basing himself on the study of early European modernity, insists on the configuration of a culture of consumption. Leveled by the commercial exploitation of life, this cultural form that even extends to the political sphere, admits delving into concepts like luxury, freedom, fetishism, money, objects, etc.

Based on that structure woven by Simmel (…) it is also possible to understand our contemporaneity. This is why it is usual to discover that art, while being a privileged horizon of reflection, has frequently returned to these philosophical budgets to make visible the consumer dynamics of current capitalized societies.

The work of Alex Hernández enters that line of work and although a universal reach is expected (…) the context from which it is presented marks a difference. The Havana that Alex deconstructs is not the homogeneous city that a state with socialist vocation defends. The “shadows” that the city amasses is what seduces the artist, since it allows him to outline a social map full of antagonisms. Espacios intermedios (2011), Comfort Patterns (2012), Levantamiento (2013) and Espectros (2014) make up a body where, based on the domestic space, the Havana-Miami, capitalism-socialism, opulence-soberness pairs are juxtaposed.

Because, like Simmel in is The Philosophy of Money, Alex Hernández handles categories that entail an open tension (…) and precisely extracts from the observation of the historic evolution of society. In the beginning, the concepts are isolated like fragments that refer to a concrete phenomenon, but later are fruit of an abstraction that will allow them, Simmel as well as Alex, a resemanticism. Thus, for the artist when the housing decomposes it opens up, sacrificing the private, the intimate in favor of the applicability in the collective (…).

And this deconstructive methodology (…) perhaps is due to Alex’s formation as an engraver. Not just the segmented nature, a process from the engraving technique (creation of the matrix, then the inking and later transference or impression) explains the analogy, but also the very way in which the graphic work is built through the superposition of levels or layers of information, resulting, however, in a synthesized visualization. (…)

Consequently, we are facing the production of Alex following that serialized logic that is known fragmented and open. And it is that, on occasions, the artist conceives series that extend in time, made up by works with autonomy. But, at other times, Alex privileges the creation of pieces that in themselves are groups, for example, Armonía (2016), where he shows the arrangement of the seats of the parliaments of different countries according to the political affiliation, or Apertura (2017) that illustrates the chess matches of the famous “Match of the Century” as a metaphor of confrontation between two antagonist socioeconomic systems (the conflict again). (…)

But what is serialized also awaits its link to the individual, with “print-run” productions and with the diverse solutions of one same product that the market generates. The facility with which Alex Hernández moves from one support or artistic genre to another, as well as the frequent mutation of the visualization he proposes refers to a certain extent to that dual marketing cycle. (…)

The Simmelian thinking deals in depth in this phenomenon when he establishes that the commercial economy and the relations of consumption favored by it harness it to the spirit of the calculability and above all the impersonality. Moreover, this context demands an aesthetic refinement of things, which does not contribute to the “promise of the value of use,” but becomes indispensable so that what is produced deserves to be bought. (…)

Marilyn Payrol

Marilyn Payrol

(Santa Clara, 1990). Graduate of Art History at the University of Havana. Professor of Theory and Criticism at the University of the Arts (ISA). She is the editor of the website of Art OnCuba magazine. Their texts are available Artecubano News and Art OnCuba website.

Related Post



  • Editor in Chief / Publisher

  • Executive Director

  • Executive Managing Editor

  • Art Director

  • Editorial Director / Editor

  • Design & Layout

  • Translation and English copyediting

  • Spanish copyediting

  • Commercial director & Public Relations / Cuba

  • Web Editor


Art OnCuba Newsletter

* This field is required