Jerry’s Kids

John Hernandez

Exhibition: Dec 7, 2000 – Jan 14, 2001


A mix of sculpture, painting, and cartoon, John Hernandez’s work is a dynamic journey into the artist’s singular view of the world around him. At Artpace, he presents several intricate new works, all dizzying combinations of images from popular culture, science fiction, and biotechnology.

In the center of the room is Lovecraft, a large-scale model of a phage virus that injects DNA into bacteria. Looking like an alien spacecraft, it is covered with ornate layers of cartoons. With spider-like legs, it appears to be spinning out of control, yet it is still, allowing the viewer to take in its detailed imagery.

Beyond it is an exaggerated hot-rod flame painted directly on the wall, which is next to a large cut-out painting on plywood. DUH! is a blown up word, based on a decal one would find on a teenager’s notebook or on the back of a car window. Iconographic and humorous, it taunts the viewer with a rhetorical answer.

Cartoon imagery and popular culture also collide in Jerry’s Kids, one of Hernandez’s largest constructions to date. In it, multiple figures metamorphosize into a one-eyed, monster-like form, connected by a swirling line of fire. Even the most innocent, well-intentioned events—Jerry Lewis’ annual telethon—are turned upside-down in Hernandez’s world.

Humor and playfulness are the immediate hallmarks of Hernandez’s work. A second look affords a darker view. Beginning with seemingly innocent sources for his imagery, specifically children’s cartoons, Hernandez brings out the grotesque in his baroque reformulation of popular culture. Drawing on science and science fiction, Hernandez crafts a new vocabulary, where familiar images are simultaneously mutilated and beautified—a transformation the artist describes as “mutafication.”

Artist

John Hernandez

San Antonio, Texas, USA

John Hernandez was born in 1952 in San Antonio, where he currently lives and works. He received his M.F.A. from the University of North Texas, Denton, after studying at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio. The recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (1989) and the Mid-America Arts Alliance (1988), he has exhibited his work throughout Texas, the U.S., and Europe. Solo exhibitions include DW Gallery, Dallas (1983, 1985, 1988); Moody Gallery, Houston (1984, 1985, 1987, 1992); Plus-Kern Gallery, Brussels (1989); Dallas Museum of Art (1992); Tyler Museum of Art, Tyler, TX (1994); Otto Schweins Gallery, Koln, Germany (1994); Blue Star Art Space, San Antonio (1996); Sculpture Center, New York (1998, with Kaleta Doolin); Dallas Visual Art Center (1998) and Sala Diaz, San Antonio (1999). In 1988, his work was included in Contemporary Art From Texas at the Groninger Museum, The Netherlands.
Drawing on popular culture, John Hernandez’s paintings and sculptures seem caught in a psychedelic moment. His dynamic polychrome forms confront the viewer with familiar yet fragmented forms: a virus, a cartoon figure, a carnival.

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Curators

Amada Cruz

Los Angeles, CA
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Kellie Jones

New York, NY
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Nancy Rubins

Topanga, California, USA

Born in 1952 in Naples, Texas, Californian Nancy Rubins received her MFA from the University of California, Davis. She has had numerous solo exhibitions, including shows at Paul Kasmin Gallery, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Venice Biennale Aperto. Rubins’ work was included in the 1995 Whitney Biennial and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles’ Helter Skelter exhibit in 1992. Rubins teaches at the University of California, Los Angeles’ Art Department. She has received grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Tiffany Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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Annette DiMeo Carlozzi

Austin, TX
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Dan Cameron

Newport Beach, California

From 2012 to 2015 he was Chief Curator at the Orange County Museum of Art in Newport Beach, California. In 2006, Dan Cameron founded the Biennial Prospect New Orleans, where he worked at until 2011. From 1995 to 2005 he was Senior Curator at the New Museum, New York, where he developed numerous group exhibitions, such as East Village USA and Living inside the Grid, and several individual shows dedicated to the artists Martin Wong, William Kentridge, Carolee Schneemann, Carroll Dunham, Doris Salcedo, José Antonio Hernández Diez, among others.
As independent curator he has organized many exhibitions that brought him international attention, such as El arte y su doble (Fundación Caixa, Madrid, 1987); El jardín salvaje (Fundación Caixa, Barcelona, 1991); Cocido y crudo (Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, 1995), among many others. In 2003, he was the Artistic Director of the 8th Istanbul Biennial, and in 2006, Co-curator of the 5th Taipei Biennial.
He has published hundreds of texts in books, catalogues and magazines, and has given numerous talks and conferences at museums and universities around the world, also carrying out an important teaching activity in New York.

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Hans Ulrich Obrist

London, England

Hans Ulrich-Obrist is the Co-Director of Exhibitions and Programs and Director of International Projects at the Serpentine Gallery in London, positions created for Ulrich-Obrist in April 2006. As a curator at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France since 2000, among many other exhibitions he organized solo shows with Jonas Mekas (2003), Anri Sala (2004), and Cerith Wyn Evans (2006). Before this position Ulrich-Obrist was an independent curator for a decade, organizing the group show Take Me I’m Yours at the Serpentine (1995) and Retrace Your Steps: Remember at the John Soane Museum (1999), also in London, England. Ulrich-Obrist was a panelist in 1998 for the 1999-2000 year of artists, and was invited to be a speaker at the 2003 symposium, but was unable to come due to illness.
Photo by Dominik Gigler

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