Javier Hermida

Other Acrylics

Acrylics of diverse theme and format.

Árbol solitario Arco de San Miguel Azuda del Algarrobo Baobab I Bosque perdido Boston 2013 Encina de la Axarquía El orden del cosmos Estanque en invierno Grises de invierno Hombre frente al mar Isla azul Jardín del edén La Retama al Sol Mesa con teteras Molino de Oromana Paisaje tramado Pecera sin peces Perfil femenino Puente en las aceñas Rosalía duerme Sol de la tarde Bosquecillo Cuento de otoño Empire State Eucalipto viejo Ramas y reflejos Tetera y taza vacía Titán Troncos


During a trip to Madrid, I visited Julian Schnabel’s series “The Ducks of Retiro Park” at the Museo Reina Sofía. These were enormous canvases, six or seven metres high, on which the artist had applied prints from large fabrics soaked in dyes, powerful brushstrokes, anarchic lines, improvised words, and so on. The press reviews praised these canvases with grandiloquent terms: “glorious,” “a visual feast,” “monumental”... I began to doubt expert opinions when I read phrases like “minimalist art,” “return to painting,” and especially “new subjectivity.” The desire to praise the most fashionable artist of the moment seemed to overshadow a judicious contemplation of the work. It was clear that the series was not minimalist (it covered many square metres), was not glorious (Schnabel came up with the idea after falling out of a boat in El Retiro, as he himself admitted), and was not a visual feast (a mess is not a feast; it is chaos). I still do not understand the concept of new subjectivity.

I wondered then if such a large format was necessary to convey those artistic sensations, whether it enhanced the message by being overwhelming, or if it was simply a matter of grandiosity. What I knew for certain was that it suited the ambitions of a prominent institution like the Museo Reina Sofía.

The same questions arose for me in front of Anselm Kiefer’s works at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, but in this case, I understood that the monumental scale (even greater than Schnabel’s) did indeed enhance the message, fulfilling the exhibition’s aim to “question the place of humanity within the cosmos,” according to the exhibition programme.

State-run art institutions in all countries promote disproportionate formats and turn contemporary art into an overwhelming spectacle, sometimes incomprehensible to the uninitiated spectator. Nevertheless, that same spectator can appreciate without pretension “The Lacemaker,” the tiny painting by Johannes Vermeer at the Louvre, Paul Klee’s small works, René Gruau’s illustrations, or Eduardo Chillida’s prints.< /p>

Painting on a smaller scale is not “speaking softly” nor does it diminish the work’s impact. The choice of format is usually a whimsical decision that doesn’t depend on the subject but does affect its execution. The communicative intent is the same whether it’s a small painting or a large one (as we see with Chillida). The only difference between the formats is the physical dimension, the technical challenges, and the exploratory impulse. With acrylics, as seen in this section, and given the technical freedom this medium provides, the choice of format is justified, at least in my case, by trivial factors like the place where I paint, the canvas I happened to buy, or the space where the work will eventually be displayed. In any case, I don’t believe there are great or small ideas—only different prices and spaces to fill. And the eloquence will remain the same, even if museums declare otherwise.