Agustín Fernández: Navigating the Line
In the realm of art, where the boundaries between reality and the subconscious blur, Agustín Fernández becomes an enigma. Navigating the Line invites you to explore the relationships of violence and eroticism, human anatomy and machinery, unconscious desires, and obsession. This exhibition delves into the imaginative and provocative expressions Agustín Fernández is celebrated for, highlighting the exploration of non-duality in his oeuvre and spanning three decades, from 1962 – 1995.
Agustín Fernández – born in Havana in 1928, and finding his final canvas in New York in 2006 – stands as a major modernist figure among Latin American and Cuban artists. His work defies easy categorization and transcends the boundaries of traditional artistic movements, embodying a perpetual navigation of in-betweens. This is epitomized in “Untitled, 1969”, with its ambiguous junction between the conceptual, machine-like and the organic. Fernández's non-binary journey can be partially attributed to his strong bond to Cuba in the face of exile, combined with the transformative influence of foreign shores.
Inspired by the political tumult of his life, “Fernández is known for his ambiguous and precariously balanced forms, erotic overtones, surreal juxtapositions, and metallic palette.” Although Fernández never explicitly aligned himself with Surrealism or strictly erotic art, his work emerged from the subconscious realm and resulted in paintings where mechanical parts intertwine with anatomical elements characterized by an underlying psychosexual innuendo. His often large-scale paintings and drawings are confrontational in that respect, their ambiguous and charged imagery threatening to enter the very space of the viewer. As Fernández himself asserted, “While the erotic content of my images is clear, I do not consider myself an erotic artist… There is for me a metaphysics of eroticism and a celebration of certain acts that changes their context.”
As Fernández’s art unfolded, it embraced the complexities of a world increasingly defined by industrialization and dehumanization. Thus, his work engages with the dichotomy between the body as a source of pleasure and as a tool of work. In Navigating the Line, we invite you to look into the enigmatic path laid by Agustín Fernández and witness how he forged a unique and biomorphic style of his own. Bodily and machinelike,
"[h]is artistic renderings lead to a metaphysical contemplation of human fragility and the dignity of suffering. Perhaps it is precisely because of those challenges, not despite them, that Fernández’s work is so exquisitely rendered, demonstrating that life is both suffering and joy, pain and pleasure."
– Elizabeth Thompson Goizueta
Through this exhibition, Leon Tovar Gallery aims to emphasize the non-dualistic visual language Agustín Fernández brilliantly constructed, and depict how this language developed and evolved throughout his multiple periods living in France, Puerto Rico, and, finally, New York. Finally, Fernadez’s hybridity exemplifies a commonality in Latin American art at large: accentuating an inherent multifacetedness, foreign influences, in-betweens, overcoming precedence, and harmoniously navigating it all.
This exhibition brings together sixteen artworks from the collection of the Agustín Fernández Foundation. Fernández’s work has been featured in prominent public and private collections, including The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Victoria and Albert Museum, London, U.K; Art Museum of the Americas, Washington, DC; Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York; El Museo del Barrio, New York; The Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas, Austin; Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL; Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana; The Frost Museum, Florida International University, Miami; and Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT.