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Black and White and Steel: Adrian Fernandez’s Memorias Pendientes

by G.W. Mercure

The evolution of an artist will be on display when The Schoolhouse Gallery opens its next show on August 12th. The group show will include Pending Memories (Memorias Pendientes), by Adrian Fernandez, alongside work by Elise Ansel, Jefferson Hayman, Jeannie Motherwell, and Han Feng. Fernandez, a Cuban born and raised artist known for mesmerizing documentary and studio photography that often uses digital elements, will exhibit for the first time the sculptural works in metal that are the latest iteration of his long exploration of architecture, memory, and how those relate to each other or do not.

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Although Fernandez didn’t formally study photography (he in fact studied sculpture), he has made an impact with his careful and introspective photographs. “In general, everybody that knew some of my work, they would always relate to the photography part but not the sculpture. But now I’ve spent a considerable amount of time producing sculpture in dialogue and in relation to my photographic practice, and I’m showing it in public for the first time at the Schoolhouse Gallery,” says Fernandez.

Fernandez is beyond erudite, and a careful student of his own work. He has the mien of an “artist’s artist,” and his dedication to understanding the intricacies and nuances within the creative pursuit is front and center in his descriptions of his work and ideas.

He first met Schoolhouse owner and director Mike Carroll in 2012 during a visit of his to Atlanta. “We met at a dealer party where I happened to have some work exhibited in the place, and that triggered a whole conversation. At that time it was an entirely different body of work that I was developing,” recalls Fernandez.

Carroll was moved enough by Fernandez’s work to begin showing some of his photographs at Schoolhouse, and the two became friends.

“We have always continued that conversation. I guess it’s more of an intimate conversation in the way that we are close friends now after all these years. I’ve kept my work with The Schoolhouse Gallery and Mike has always been very supportive. We have had a very good collaboration throughout all this time.”

The sculptures that Fernandez has produced are a kind of transition from the photographic work he had been doing, but they are also a kind of return. He studied sculpture during his formal education in the arts (at the San Alejandro Fine Arts Academy and the Superior Institute of Arts in Cuba). Over the last four years, he says, he has been “finding a place for sculpture, a regular place for it.”

He kept the process methodical, going back to basics and working first with ideas around perspective, then moving on to modeling, before creating the distinctive and affecting sculptures the likes of which will be on display at Schoolhouse.

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“It was a slow process for me to understand, to get acquainted with that medium once again,” he says. “During all that study you come to a more clear mindset about what you want. It’s an evolution, a step, from a production point of view. From a conceptual point of view as well, which is also informed and influenced by the photographic work.”

Both photographs and sculptures are included in Pending Memories, some of which are also in the book of the same name released this past spring. His sculptural art is possessed of a modestly grand scale, with most of the new works around four feet or higher, and an unmistakable but difficult to define presence. They suggest indistinct urban landscapes, industrialization, cityscapes, accumulations of structures and time, frames, skeletons, figures, monoliths, kinesiology. And memory.

While Fernandez definitely has a journey in mind for any audience absorbing the connections between his studio photography and the new sculptures, it’s not a guided journey. “I’m not interested in a straightforward dialogue at all in any of my work,” he says. “I like to give the audience a set of clues.”

The clues, he says, have been there in the photographic work for some time. “There was a certain sense of visual experimentation with what I was photographing, which on many occasions were architectural motifs, fragments of old buildings collapsing in Havana, industrial buildings, also abandoned. These were not strange places to me, but rather they would become part of my everyday routine when I was walking by or going places in the city.”

Despite his sculptural work being so successful and so painstakingly realized, Fernandez hasn’t abandoned photography or whatever else may be around the creative corner.

“Today I am constantly commuting from one media to the other trying to build a sense of environment that I guess I’m seeing in my work,” he says. “The sculpture doesn’t depend on the photography nor the other way around, but they actually convey a group of ideas which complement each other. I guess it fulfills different expectations.”

Adrian Fernandez’s work will be presented in a group show at Schoolhouse Gallery, 494 Commercial St., Provincetown, August 12 – 31. There is an opening reception with some of the artists Friday, August 12, 6 – 8:30 p.m. at the gallery. For more information call 508.487.4800 or visit

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Ginger Mountain

Ginger Mountain (MS Communications Media, BA Fine Arts/Teaching Certification K-12) has been part of the graphic design team at Provincetown Magazine since 2008. Ginger has worked as a creative director, individual contractor, and freelance designer with clients representing many areas —business software, consumer products, professional services, entertainment, and network hardware to name just a few — providing creative layout and development of a wide range of print media content. Her clients ranged from small local businesses to large corporations and Fortune 500 companies, from New Hampshire to Georgia

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