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“My style is a combination of several styles, in my works you can find neoclassicism, realism, surrealism and magical realism. I am inspired by the unreal, the unattainable horizons of the imagination”, this is how the Argentine artist defines himself

Hernán Javier Muñoz is one of the most outstanding self-taught plastic artists in the world. He may sound pretentious, but his works are rare gems of painting. He was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1983.

He considers himself a very ethical, honest, transparent person, with great human and artistic sensitivity, a great observer of his surroundings, questioning and curious, with natural intelligence, firm in his principles. Sometimes a bit closed in some ideas, somewhat stubborn but good conversationalist, passionate about art, happy to be an artist

His father –Ricardo– was a master builder until the 1990s, after he was fired, with the compensation he set up a small computer business and a kiosk.

His mother -Alicia- worked at the Official Gazette until the birth of her brother, then she was a housewife and took care of the kiosk until they had to close it.

He had a very simple, humble childhood, in those days there was not much technology and most of the games were based on the imaginative capacity of each one. The days were spent in the sun, at the door of the house, where all the elderly neighbors sat in their wicker chairs in summer. The children played soccer, the afternoons seemed eternal. Meanwhile, the mothers were cleaning the house, and the fathers were at work… Such was life in her early childhood.

Everything changed when his father became unemployed and family and economic problems accompanied them until their youth. The computer business brought them forward. He always saw his parents work, and thanks to that example, Hernán is what he is today.

He had several little books of Mafalda, the famous cartoon by master Quino, and some Asterix magazines, by Uderzo and Goscinny, the meticulous quality of detail in Uderzo’s characters strongly marked his love of drawing. “It was a pleasure to see each character and his gestures,” he recalls, “a work of art wherever you look at it.” He was always very sensitive to images, drawings, animated films that exploited his imagination.

His youth was somewhat separated from his family, he went to a double shift school oriented to the arts and arrived very late in the neighborhood, on the way he stayed with friends and came home at night. It was a time of much searching, he was always a very emotional and curious being.

The economic downturns in his country changed day to day, the dangers of the street increased, as did drugs and violence. He was always very meticulous with those issues, trying to get as far away as possible.

She went to an art-oriented high school, she was educationally very precarious, so when she finished school she decided to be self-taught in the field of painting. She remembers that she had little money and collected small pieces of cardboard or wood from the street to use as canvases in her first works. It was very expensive to paint on canvas. Oil was another economic problem, so he resolved, thanks to a friend who advised him, to buy the pigments to make the paints from chemists. There he learned a lot, since he only had about 4 or 5 tones to solve a work.

In order to have references, he traveled two Sundays a month to the art museum, carrying with him a small cardboard box with oil paintings prepared to be able to imitate the palettes of the great masters. One of the greatest references of him at that time was William-Adolph Bouguereau, in a local museum there is one of his best works, “The First Mourning”.

He decided to study painting on his own because simply there he found the easiest way to express himself, he felt that by improving technically he could make the message clearer. She really liked surrealism with hyperrealistic fragments, he wanted to achieve that visual quality.

an eclectic artist

At the age of 30 he approached art again and at 32 he decided to quit his job to devote full time to his paintings. It was not easy, but today at 39, after 7 years, he feels that it was the best decision he has ever made, although the most difficult.

“In art I found a way of life, of expression and the possibility of discharge, I am very emotional and I need a constant expressive device. Creating helps manage our emotions, sharpens our senses and keeps us constantly active. When I finish the day and see that I was able to do a good job, it is easier for me to sleep.”

“My style is a combination of several styles, in my works you can find neoclassicism, realism, surrealism and magical realism”.

Various segments of his works involve hyperrealism, to accentuate different parts of the work.

“Sometimes the techniques highlight the styles, but the theme plays a very important role that can also pigeonhole you in other places. The theme “style” is for me more complex. As I said before, I am a combination of styles, which end up defining the essence of my work, creating a strong personality in the work and a kind of signature of the artist. One of my goals is to form a unique and particular style and that each person identifies it as mine”.

“I am inspired by the unreal, the unattainable horizons of the imagination.”

“I am inspired by the imaginative capacity in dreams, that is why my most important reference is Salvador Dalí in what is compositional and emotional, but technically I relate more to the great masters of the Baroque and neoclassicism”, he details.

He is extremely curious about dreams and metaphysics, sometimes looking for inspiration in philosophy.

“The search for my works is more internal than external,” says Hernán.

He reflects that everything that has affected him in the days and years must be expressed on the canvas. He always has the books of the great masters nearby, they always accompany him.

Everything that surrounds him influences him, Paris influenced him as perhaps the paddock where he played soccer as a child.

“The works are built from experiences, wherever we are, we are sponges, which when pressed unfolds on the canvas everything that we have been “capturing” over the years.”

Failed loves, places where he felt happy or sad, friends who left, others who are (…) He has been lucky enough to travel and I have taken sensations and images like a thief, an endless number of little things that “surely are embedded in my works.”

art as philosophy

It is impossible for Hernán to distinguish what has been taken from each city or each person, but what he can say is that everything is useful when faced with a canvas. And in a set of phrases he defines his experience as an artist.

“Sometimes I think that each work of mine is a set of life experiences converted into a code, perhaps every second of my existence is in each work”, he maintains.

“Art takes us out of everyday life, it revives the humanity that we carry inside, artists are awakeners of the soul, of feelings and sensations, that routine and day-to-day problems keep under lock and key.”

“We always say that an artist creates a work, but sometimes a work can create an artist.”

He assures that his work is more than something material, it is something metaphysical, more internal and psychological; it is like a good title of a book in which if you open it the letters are not there, they appear only when you start to imagine.

“My works are stories that you must complete, they give you back your inner child, forcing you to use your imagination.”

Life always puts us in front of very difficult situations, they can be economic, health, family problems, etc. Challenges appear when we seek goals, but we must overcome chaotic situations and move on. The most difficult challenge of my life has been living from art, I had to leave everything I had, get away from my family and quit my job… those were very difficult times, I had to believe in myself and in my art, that was a real challenge , begin to believe in myself and not let my guard down no matter what happens”, he affirms.

And then he adds: “before following a dream you must be prepared for frustrations, fulfilled dreams are 80% frustrations and 20% successes. The secret is perseverance. The ability to fall down and get back up makes dreams possible. My advice is to be self-critical, understanding our limitations anticipates the choice of paths, perhaps some are longer, but safer, and others are shorter, with great disappointments. You can use frustration as a motor instead of a weight on your back, a defeat should be the motivation to improve ourselves day by day and come back with our heads held high for another opportunity”.

“Be patient, wait for the moment and launch without fear, as long as you believe in the work and its value”.

For him, maintaining humility is key, he says that self-centeredness is like a blindfold, you will not be able to see your own mistakes nor will you be able to improve as a person and human quality, much less be able to improve your work…

“You have to keep in mind that fulfilling the dream is not the most important thing, but the path you travel. In it will be the risks, the dangers and the best works of art you can make, because the moments of greatest inspiration are found in the struggle and constant work. You have to look for limits in every way because being on the edge intensifies creativity.

“Take a distance, walk away from the dream, go where you can’t work on it and take another perspective to face it again. Remember that the tree sometimes does not let you see the forest.

If they have helped you reach your dream, return the favor to someone else who is starting to pursue it.

“Life does not belong to us, it is a loan without the possibility of renegotiation, we are part of the whole, neither more nor less important than a rock for the universe, but very important for those who love us, the most important thing in life is what We leave it to those who follow, to those who come”.

He would like people to draw their own conclusions based on what they see in his works, in fact all his work reflects what he is, his emotions, feelings, anger, happiness. Everything that is is in his pictorial trajectory.

At the end of his life he will be like his works, “I will belong to other people”.

“In their minds I will be whoever they want me to be and my paintings will mean what they interpret,” the artist concludes.

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