You might have seen her handiwork at some of your favourite Sydney hangouts. A mural at Freda’s or gift vouchers from Yulli’s? A life-sized baby elephant at the Golden Age Cinema & Bar’s first birthday party?
A natural curiosity about the people behind the places she loves and frequents has resulted in a string of creative collaborations across town for Nadia Hernandez. Her trademark illustrative style – blocky and emblematic, calling to mind folk art with a modern Keith Haring punch, or a stylised David Shrigley line – woven neatly in.
After fostering these relationships since arriving in Sydney five years ago, the Venezuelan-born artist has turned her gaze inwards with 100% Certain. It is an exhibition of new works that pays homage to her Latin American heritage while calling for social and political change.
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Housed in Surry Hills’ M.M.P.G on Crown Street – just above the TITLE store – Hernandez’s collection of framed collages, wooden sculptures and prints explore Venezuelan folklore. “My work is about finding oneself through folklore in order to call for reflection, solidarity and union,” she says.
“There’s an underlying narrative to each piece – a scene, a story, a moment in time is captured in order to build a visual legend in which ideas of change, rebirth and union are described.” These narratives come to life through a vibrant and earthy colour palette, with scenes that evoke all the flora, fauna and fiesta of Venezuela and rallying words that invoke togetherness.
It’s been a while since Hernandez lived in Venezuela. She lived in Brisbane for five years prior to her arrival in Sydney and in the United States before that. So why create and present this body of art now? “It was important for me to create this at this particular moment in order to pay homage to the culture that has shaped my identity,” she says. “I also wanted to express the daily hardship and political turmoil faced by Venezuelans at this present time, to raise awareness but ultimately to unite and inspire hope for change.”
Hernandez is mindful that the concepts she’s exploring don’t stop where Venezuela meets the sea. She sees a synergy between her homeland and her adopted country. “Even though 100% Certain focuses on issues currently affecting my country of birth, these also transcend and extend to other parts of the world,” she says. “Union and solidarity are universal statements as well as resistance to corruption and irresponsible governments. Australia, like Venezuela, is a country with an important and rich indigenous culture and history, and a diverse immigrant population. And like Venezuela, it’s a country with enviable resources. Australia can only be strengthened by its diversity and it’s this collective call for union, respect, hope and solidarity that forms the underlying messages of my work.”
100% Certain is in its final week, running until Saturday 28 February at MMPG, Level 1, 499 Crown St, Surry Hills.