(Above: My New Friends, 2022. Acrylic on canvas, 20 x 48 inches. $2,700
ArtXchange Gallery presents I Wish I Could, a new series of paintings by Peruvian-American artist William Hernandez. This exhibition captures a timelapse of the artist’s life during the pandemic, reflecting on the importance of our personal and global relationships during times of transition. His narrative, dream-like works blend references from his past, the world around him, literature, history, and mythology.
This new series reflects on the experience of an artist living through a momentous time in history, as Hernandez grappled with the fragmentation of daily life, routine, and community during the pandemic. Paintings begun in 2020 were interrupted by the challenges of living and parenting in social isolation. Painting resumed in 2021, after Hernandez had been transformed by a year of challenges, but also inspired by movements for social change. Finally, new works in 2022 delve deeply into specific memories from Hernandez’s life, creating whimsical narratives or allegories on the canvas.
William Hernandez | Artist Statement
A transition is a movement, passage, or change from one position to another. Everyone experiences transition in their life, and right now we are living an incredible transition on a global scale. For me, the changes caused by the pandemic have been some of the most transformative, impactful, and inspirational that I’ve experienced.
Humankind has experienced social, political, and economic crises of epic magnitudes during these times, and the tragic loss of lives will not soon be forgotten. Much has been written about the importance, even the necessity, of art during this tragic time. For this reason, I’m hoping the visual perspective of moments that I captured will spark a connection with others.
I started this new series of paintings soon after the pandemic hit the U.S., in 2020. They are my response to the changes I witnessed, both domestically and politically, during this uncertain time. I felt like time was paused, that we were in a sort of dream that I didn’t want to last too long. Nevertheless, to this date, it’s still not over and the experiences will be tied to our collective memory.
After a long pause from this production, I continued the series in 2021 and this current year. The continuation of this narrative leads me to question: How can I connect the past to the present? In what way can my contribution bring light to somewhat dark spaces and remind everyone that a brighter day is coming? or it is already here?
“I present this exhibition with a new voice, with a greater vision of the global world and the idea that art has healing powers. I feel it is my obligation to carry that message now.”
- William Hernandez, 2022
About the Artist
Classically trained in oil painting and drawing at Lima's Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes, William Hernandez worked as an artist and designer for public and international institutions throughout Lima before settling in Portland at the age of 32. A teacher as well as a professional artist, he is dedicated to introducing the arts to students all ages through classes, murals, and collaborative projects. Hernandez is a Curator and Lead Project Director at IDEAL PDX, a collaborative group of Portland region Latinx artists; their latest project is a monumental 30 foot mural Frida and Diego Are Here, at the Portland Art Museum.
Hernandez’s vibrant paintings have been exhibited in galleries and cultural centers from Peru to Portland, including Instituto Cultural Peruano Norteamericano, Centro Cultural de Espana, Concordia University and ArtXchange Gallery in Seattle. For multiple years, he participated in the U.S. Embassy's Noche de Arte: the largest art exhibition in Peru, a show that generates funds for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).