Ricardo Fernandez Ortega’s Paintings Invoke 17th-Century Techniques
by Victoria Casal-DataPosted on February 25, 2014
In today’s highly digitized society, few champion techniques that belong to historical art movements. Mexican artist Ricardo Fernandez’s way of adding and subtracting light and carefully controlling rich dark, luscious tones resembles great 17th-century Spanish masters such as Diego Velazquez.
His intuitive ways of using lights and darks (chiaroscuro), takes us to a mysterious, sometimes surreal space, where women wear elegant armor, extravagant headdresses and exist in empty terrains while participating in strange, but fantastical and dream-like activities.
Through his usage of a historical style, Ortega authentically assembles an extended body of work that resembles and continues, in many ways, the legacy of the old Spanish masters. His curious themes may feel contemporary, but overall it is hard not to go back in time while enjoying these skillfully-painted works of art.
“I try to come close to realism in order to achieve a specific visual purpose. That purpose is to provide something that connects to both the viewer and myself in a very particular way, psychologically speaking. People respond to realistic painting quite differently than they do to abstract or less realistic work.
I want to evoke the response people have to very realistic images without actually becoming a realist or photo-realist painter. I simply want the viewer’s mind to respond to my work in a way that is similar to how it responds to photorealist and hyperrealist painting. But from there, I want to achieve something quite different than photorealists and hyperrealists.”
Ricardo Fernandez Ortega: Overflight
October 6, 2017
“From the sky, you can see many beautiful things that go unnoticed when looking from the ground,” says Mexican artist Ricardo Fernandez Ortega, whose magical realism often depicts female figures surrounded by birds in flight – or even sprouting wings themselves to drift through a calm night sky.
Paintings in Fernandez Ortega’s solo exhibition, “Overflight,” encourage this lofty perspective while representing dream-like imaginings and innermost desires.
In “Journey Partner,” a lavishly dressed female figure crouches by a resting horse with her eyes cast downward. Hovering just above her head is a white flag, billowing in the soft breeze against a dark sky. Is it dusk or dawn?
A strip of clear blue light illuminates the mountain range behind her as clouds with a purple tinge begin to overtake the darkness. According to the artist, the white flag represents peace; if the girl and horse were to stand up, leaving the ground where their eyes are fixed, it would be within their reach.
Upon first glance, the flag could also be interpreted as a bed sheet, symbolizing the dream world in which the subjects exist. Mysterious and enchanting, Fernandez Ortega’s magical realism is open to the viewer’s interpretations.
Wings, animals and bright or incandescent objects act as symbols in Fernandez Ortega’s work, representing internal qualities such as freedom, goodness and intelligence. Often revolving around a dominant feminine subject, these symbols weave mystifying messages and evoke visceral, subconscious emotions from the viewer.
“I would like my paintings to help people understand themselves and each other,” says Ortega. “I’m looking for connections between the subconscious and the realistic events that build our life.”
Fernandez Ortega’s skillfully realistic painting style and intuitive chiaroscuro technique draw us into his surreal environments with mesmerizing curiosity. Great 17th-century Spanish masters including Diego Velazquez inspire Fernandez Ortega, who currently resides in Durango, Mexico.
By combining classical techniques with magical realism, Fernandez Ortega creates a style that is uniquely his own.
“Overflight” opens on Friday, October 20th and will remain on display at the gallery through October 26th.
Ricardo Fernandez Ortega was born in 1971 in Durango, Mexico. The surreal paintings by Ortega invites us to travel to another time, his style reminds us of the greatest classical masters, however, his painting is modern.