Saturday, 28 November 2009

An evening with Maria Luisa Hernandez

Due to the insane amount of traffic and slight malfunction with the Google Maps on my berry I was running quite late getting to Maria Luisa Hernandez’s home/studio for an intimate reception she was having, showcasing some of her recent artwork. But better late than never I always say, and that applied more than ever yesterday evening.
I arrived at Maria’s apartment slightly flustered and feeling a bit disheveled, I was sure I was a mess and was hoping the bathroom was near enough to the front door so I could run in quickly and sort out the mess that was my hair (damn wind!) I wasn’t sure if it was the smell of warm cinnamon that hit my senses as I opened the door or the stunning painting that were in front of me, or the combination of the two but I immediately feel a wave of calmness rush over me and the need to powder my nose is no longer pressing. The glass of champagne put into my hand also helped I’m sure.
I walk around the ground floor feeding my eyes with more of Maria’s amazing work. I recognize some of the pictures from her website and they are even more intense in person. There are some of her oil paintings, either on canvas or linen, from her Ignis, Aqua and Aero collections.
I finally spot the lovely lady herself; whose pictures, I have to say, do not do her any justice: she’s stunning and lovely to chat to. I steal her away from her guests for a few moments and we go upstairs to her studio for a girly chat. Maria slips off her shoes for a moment and we get comfortable on the couch.

We talk about her artwork and what inspires her. Her work has been described as “…
an atmospheric play of colour and light: the two anchors of her work” by the art critic Pedro Labowitz and I ask her how much of a part nature plays in her art. She says that nature and natural beauty inspire her and she talks about the peace she feels when she’s surrounded by nature. “It’s a place that I feel where you can relate with your God” she adds, and the painting of Jesus and the Bible in one corner of her studio is a testament to how religious she is. Some of her other inspirations include the great Michelangelo and Rembrandt.

She goes on to describe painting as the love of her life, “I do it day and night. That’s why I have my studio in my house, it’s important to live with your lover”. However, as much as she loves to paint she is also very disciplined and she notes that “it takes focus, passion, patience and a lot of time”. This seemed like the perfect time to ask her about her recent collaboration with the interior designer Catherine Milner. “She came to me actually. She contacted me through someone who had bought one of my paintings”. They have worked together on a number of luxurious properties for private clients combining unique architecture with stunning artwork, providing an end result that is both functional and artistic. Maria believes her paintings ‘give the soul of the rooms’.

We go on to talk about travelling, a love that we discover we both share and she talks about how the different cultures and cities influence her work. And get this; her favourite city is London, despite the weather! In fact she says the weather helps her as an artist. ‘I think the weather in the UK is suitable for artists, it encourages you to be introspective and find that quiet space inside yourself”. Good to know the crummy weather helps some people, I wish I could find a positive thing to say about cold, wet and windy London… it’ll come to me soon I’m sure… She also loves the boats in England, especially down by Cornwall and ponders if she was a seagull in her past life.

The final question I ask Maria; if she weren’t an artist, could she see herself doing anything else? Laughing she replies, “I am hopeless at everything else! If I was a waitress I’d forget the orders, and I make such a mess in the kitchen I wouldn’t be a great cook. I think I’m better off as an artist”. If I was as good as she was, I’d also struggle to find a Plan B.

Photography: Chun P Lin

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