Thursday, June 14, 2007

Hector Bernal

I don’t know nearly as much about art as I would like to. First off, I am not a artist myself. I am a very practical guy, good at fixing things, working on cars, doing plumbing, electrical, etc. Call me Mr. Fix-It. But in college at the encouragement of my sister and brother in law I took a course at UTEP in art appreciation. It sort of opened up my eyes.

Then after college I got lucky enough to live in Europe - twice. The first time for almost 3 years in Frankfurt, Germany on the Main river, and then many years later I lived in The Netherlands for 15 years. Both times I went out of my way to visit as many art museums and galleries (and as often) as possible.

One of my favourite artists is the Spaniard, Juan Miro’. I have seen his work all over Europe and once was lucky enough to visit the Miro’ Foundation Museum in Barcelona. I own a couple of his original prints, one of them signed.

Another one of my favourites is the Belgian, Rene' Magritte. I have also seen his work in many art museums across Europe. A couple of times in Brussels I visited the house he lived in while he did some of his best work. I’ve also been to his grave site. Paul Simon wrote a song about Rene' and his wife Georgette and their dog.

I got the following from Wikipedia: Rock band Jethro Tull mention Magritte in a 1976 lyric, and Paul Simon's song "René and Georgette Magritte with Their Dog After the War" appears on the 1983 album Hearts and Bones. Paul McCartney, a life-long fan of Magritte, owns many of his paintings, and claims that a Magritte painting inspired him to use the name Apple for the Beatles' media corporation.
The really odd thing is that I used to occasionally have these somewhat erotic dreams about his wife. She of course has been dead now for many years, but as a young woman she was so incredibly beautiful. For a while I kept a framed picture of her on my desk at work, until one of the ladies who worked in the office told me, "Paul that is just TOO weird." I still think she was beautiful, but I no longer dream about her.

Yesterday I went by the Hal Marcus Gallery in El Paso, Texas. Marcus is one of the more famous local artists, and he has a very nice gallery. They have some of the nicest paintings from Southwestern artists that I have seen anywhere.

One of their exhibits was by a painter named Hector Bernal. This is a link to an article about Bernal:

Here is what the Hal Marcus website has to say about him:

Hector was born in Cd. Juarez Chih. He came to El Paso at the age of twelve in 1959. He then attended Aoy Elementary School in south El Paso. He also attended Bowie High School and graduated in 1968. His priorities changed soon after graduation. He got married and started a family. Having the responsibility of supporting his wife and children, he had no choice but to neglect his painting. He took a job as a commercial artist in 1974 and also worked at The Popular Department Store and The White House Department Store. He resumed his painting in 1986, since he had a little more time and space. In 1997, he had his first one man show which was a great success. Since then he exhibits his works and continues to paint.

"Painting has always been the language of my inner being. It is my gift not my profession. Modernism and technology dazzle everyone, but we remain as artists to say who we are with our hands, our imagination and with our vision. I strongly believe that a man as an artist should always be concerned with the problems of social struggle. Painting to me is a process of freedom by which I express not simply what I see but how I feel and see with my eyes. Through painting I want to express what moves me most....the human aspect"

I was absolutely taken aback at his work. So striking. This is not in any way a put down on the other really excellent artists who are exhibiting in the gallery, but Bernal’s work is just simply outstanding.
And in some ways it reminds me of Rene’ Magritte. I liked all of his paintings, but I was especially taken with his work entitled "The Visionaries."

This is a link to the website of the Hal Marcus gallery: