20th century Latin American Printmaker
Claudia Fernández focuses on the peculiarity of details found in the built environment, extracting them from the varying social and cultural strata to which they belong. Rather than focusing on their meanings, Fernández reduces these found objects to formal aspects—shape, color, and contour— so as to focus our attention on details that usually go unnoticed. The sleek abstractions of Fernández’s Ómnibus series, for example, are derived from the deliberate framing of portions of painted decorations and branding icons found on the sides of tour buses.
Fernández follows in the tradition of artists such as Aaron Siskind who, in the 1940s, photographed found organic shapes as designs on the surface of a picture plane rather than real world objects in three dimensions. The hard-edge qualities of Fernández’s images, however, are perhaps more closely akin to the 1950s abstractions of Ellsworth Kelly and the work of painter and printmaker Gunther Gerzso from the 1960s and 70s. Both Kelly and Gerzso believed in a direct connection between abstraction and nature. Best known for his experiments with color on neutral backgrounds, Kelly derived his forms and colors from photographs of the environment including plants, architecture, bridges, and shadows. In extracting elements from their original surroundings and juxtaposing their photographs in polyptic form, Fernández neutralizes their decorative function and calls attention to their formal composition.