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Beauty & The Grotesque

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Jose Hernandez alternates his studies between the Spanish Institute and the French School in Tangiers. He becomes interested in mathematics and competitive sport. He enjoys long distance running and draws relentlessly. After a fruitful period in which he draws and paints from life, he becomes interested in experimenting with different painting materials, which leads him to a wider knowledge of a number of different oil and watercolour techniques. He exhibits his first works at the Librairie des Colonnes in Tangiers in 1962, and receives support from friends, artists and writers who encourage him to explore new fields in the arts. In 1964 he settles in Madrid, where he currently works and resides. It is in Madrid that he presents his first solo exhibition in 1966 at Galería Edurne. Since then numerous exhibitions both within and outside of Spain have taken place. In 1967 he publishes his first etchings and lithographs. His work as an engraver, which complements his painting leads him to produce many bibliophilic books in collaboration with writers and poets, contemporaries and classics. Since 1971 he has also completed a considerable number of projects as an illustrator of widely distributed books. Since 1974 he has collaborated in a number of theatrical projects as a stage and costume designer for both classic and contemporary plays. At present, he is a voted-in member of the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid, he has been awarded the Honorary Medal of the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de Santa Isabel de Hungría in Seville, and is a member of the European Academy of Sciences, Fine Arts and Literature in Paris.


Spanish artist José Hernández discusses the concepts of beauty, ugliness, and the grotesque through the lens of his own goals and desires as an artist. He raises the question of the ambiguity of beauty as having multiple portrayals and yet remaining constant. He also explores the confounds of ugliness and its association with evil something that repels and attracts as well as sometimes defining beauty. The discussion takes place while reminding us that the grotesque emerged as an aspect of art simultaneously with beauty from the caves of imagination and creativity.

This talk is part of the Darwin College Lecture Series series.

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