Eduardo Planchart Licea

The artist's passion for nature is present since his earliest paintings, in Garden Party, 1979 (Fiesta en el Jardin) where he represents a group around a table. The aesthetic force of the background vegetation in this painting becomes its visual center, which from that moment becomes an essential element of his aesthetic language, a priority element of his, not as a metaphorical and symbolic representation, expresses the need to create a harmonious relationship with nature.

"Hyder is a master of the old technique of making images on wood. He is not inhibited by the fact that these jobs are usually done in smaller scales. He has also spontaneously experimented with printed matters. Now he uses a combination of techniques based on the idea of taking the audience into a wild and primitive environment. "(Edward Lucie-Smith, Frank Hyder Poet of a Threatened-Eden. 2008)

The multifaceted nature, the history of the conquered as metaphor are some of the fundamental reasons for Frank Hyder’s artistic proposal. With a strong influence of Pop Art represented in Jasper Johns and Rauschenberg by the mindedness and freedom that he makes use of materials and themes. He is also linked to the povera art (poor art) by his using of leaves and other materials he incorporates into his paintings, boxes or wooden stakes with which he creates his installation works.

The diversity of materials and techniques transform each piece into a beauty full of archetypal meanings, as is the relationship established with myths and images associated with the soul and the forces that beat in the darkness of our unconscious.

For him to carve wood, work on handmade paper, make use of the knot and of contemporary materials such as resin, to echo ancestral, wild and contemporary forms, they are proposals largely born from his personal experience, as was his meeting with the Venezuelan Amazonia. He delves into the myths and rituals immortalized by wild societies such as Piaroa ,Yanomami, Yekuana and others that have inspired aesthetic proposals that bury their roots in the Latin American imaginary. Among these series stands out the one presented at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Caracas Sofia Imber, at the exhibition "Endangered Speeches", 1996, where he takes the spectator to that paradoxical encounter between that culture and its environment, through installation parts where nudity of the wild man is an integral part of nature as a symbol of the recovery of paradise, showing how these cultures relate more harmoniously with their environment than our civilization, by a concept of progress and prosperity against nature.

In his paintings, nature invades the space with compositions where sometimes there does not exist a unique visual center, but multiple centers, since he wants to convey that notion of Edenic nature associated with the ancient societies. Sometimes this notion is exaggerated because the civilizations such as the Mayan became extinct by the strong environmental impact with their natural environment. But if something is true, is the diversity of species and ethnic groups, full of wisdom from our jungles which are also one of the main lungs of the planet and destroying it, at the fast pace it is being done it will lead us to an apocalyptic destiny.

And these dimensions of reality were exhibited in museums of Central America, Venezuela and Colombia. In the Jacobo Borges Museum (2001), Caracas, he represented the lugubrious cloak of the missionaries, with hoods hiding faces and bell-shaped skirts that resemble the structure of the cross, which are confronted with thin and bare bodies and of traditional cultures.

Among airs of mystery in his paintings and wood cuts, he represents this clash among civilizations, difficult to imagine for its paradoxical cruelty, which the artist captures through a synthetic figuration, characterized by a color which establishes dialectic between light and darkness, between chaos and order. Brightness emanating from the characters, revealing the nightmares that hide darkness and that the audience recreates in his imagination. It is art as a symbol of historical processes that changed our past and foreshadow our present.

Hyder creates art techniques to represent these truths, where he makes use of traditional materials such as handmade paper, surfaces of wood excavated with gouges to create depths in the plane, typical of his artistic language. From fortuitous encounters and chances in this Caribbean land full of chromatic contrasts, he created works in which the rainforest shines between the greenness and yellow, red, blue and black spots, as they appear in the work "Rainforest" (Selva Lluviosa), 1996 . In colors that fly in flocks of macaws announcing the misty Amazonian dawns, or the mysterious darkness that slips through the jungle to stalk its prey in the predatory and shamanic shadow of the jaguar.

The traditional mythologies have been inspired by the chromatic brilliance, to create a symbolic beauty that few artists have paid attention to. One of Frank Hyder’s greatest successes has been staying focused on these realities, through the body drawings which are reflected in his pictorial creations and the forms that these generate in his material culture. Creating various proposals that reveal these realities, as expressed in the series "Free Land" presented at the Medicci Gallery, 2003.

He turns the ordinary into sacred transfiguration such as associating the foothills of the shacks of Caracas with pyramidal structures that inspired in him a group of works from the series "New World Landscape" (Paisaje del Nuevo Mundo), 2001 where he leaves the ideological discourse and the report to see our hills, covered with shacks from a geometric and ironic perspective. Thus, a number of works he made in the workshop of San Diego de Los Altos in the outskirts of Caracas arise, where he assumes the shacks as cubes since most are created with remains of wooden and zinc boxes.

Through the recreation of Aboriginal aesthetics, its natural and everyday life environment in the shanty cities of Caracas, he generates a language that is enriched by direct contact, making his work a fullness of vital and archetypal echoes. The fallen leaves from the tops of the tall trees of the rainforest, he incorporates them into his work, with texture and color, even the feeling of spongy soil typical of the Amazon, where life is reborn from death, sense that it is transmitted installation proposals.

This reflects the illusion of paradise, as the rainforests live in a fragile ecological balance, where death must continuously reabsorb. Hence, in his facilities not only the walls, the ceiling intervene, but also the floor by covering it with fabrics painted with vegetation, that combined with jungle sounds create in the spectator an approach to that environment.

The two-dimensionality is combined with the three-dimensional, in large canvases with fish that hatch in a boiling of life, between leaves and metaphorical structures of wild spirits, created with wooden stakes tied to each other and covered in fabric, generating transparencies so that the spectator can envision the outside and the inside, of matter and the spirit, inspired by the aesthetics and constructive technology of our ancestors.

He also incorporates this structure to installation proposals where he creates visual metaphors of the curiaras (canoes) created by aboriginal people boring through logs or using moorings in the bark that some trees release. Vessels that seem like leaves, in their fragility, on the rivers and streams that remain floating in a poetic balance.

As an artist from Pennsylvania, United States, he is inspired by these topics, so far as to venture into the jungle and be subjugated by its mysterious beauty. He is motivated by something more than the spirit of adventure. This way he is maturing his vision and aesthetics as experimental language where he is trapped by the lattice of nature. His style moves away from the academic, as well as he uses the brush, he also makes incisions with gouges in the pictorial surfaces of wood, to violate the plan and emphasize the depths. It is a pictorial technique with traces of woodcut prints and the assembly, in which he reuses the fragments of carved pieces of wood, to create effects in the work of feathers, wrinkles and beards on their faces. Thus, he creates a tension between the gap of the groove, which becomes part of the skins of these characters and the cover with recycled materials. The texture that the artist manages to create, resemble vegetable skins, that is the reason they have been exposed frameless, floating in space, to create an effect of organic lightness.

In the faces stands out the series "Shamans" full of organic textures which metaphor that intimate relationship with the cosmos that exists between ancient societies, and through this character there are created many of the myths that generate strong links with the environment around them. The skins of these faces seem to emanate from the earth by the handmade paper with which they are created. This artistic language is characterized by the richness of their textures to convey the feeling of being in the instincts of nature.

The faces are not only limited to shamans, but the jungle man, warriors, hunters ... One is before a typology of the face where there are present the body designs of these ethnic groups. The wavy lines on the face and body are similar to the water; the points to the sun and moon, the serpentine curves of the primordial serpent, the ridges to the maze, to the water waves, and to the eternal return.

Through the faces the artist also represents himself, identifying with the lives of others through the different faces he paints, as in every human being cohabits humanity.

"I have always been here.
I have always wanted to be different.
I have gotten used to myself,
despite the changes.
It is everything I need and everything I am
yet would be another. “
(Frank Hyder 2005)

Within these aesthetic expressions, the inflatable jungle face created for the Miami Art Fair, is an achievement in this series, the artist did not just create a face with inflatable polymer form of a, using his color as usual in this type of inflatable sculptures. Painted surface but conveying the spirit of jungle in the giant face, body painting and elements of a being expressed in a ratio of body clothing deep rapport with the cosmos. Thus, painting knots in her hair, seeds, feathers with its connotations associated with the shamanic flight.

"Water has always fascinated me since my early works because it sets up a game of changing colors, movement and symbolic qualities. Mankind has always had a hypnotic attraction to it. In our case, water has attracted us because there is, in our garden, a pond with Koi fish, which I enjoyed for over ten years. "(Frank Hyder, testimony, 2005)

Water in the form of rivers, ponds and life, is another of his constants, is dominated by the same spirit that moves his creations inspired by the jungle. This eclectic language developed since his early works, achieves a new development in the series of fish, mainly the Koi, which generates an opposite technical treatment. The textures and depths achieved by digging into the wood become depths of various thicknesses, glassy, which transmit in each piece the feeling of being in an aquatic space. One of the most striking dimensions of this technique is the strong color contrast. The Koi do not look for hyper-realism, but use the sinuous form to create a proposal that is under tension between abstraction and realism through the pictorial stain and an archetypal form of the fish, characterized by its formal beauty, the delicacy of its body and the colors with which covers its aquatic skin .

The Koi is a fish full of symbolism and has been taken as a symbol of royalty from very early times in Asia; hence it has been taken care of in delicate ceramic vases. The Koi is currently present in almost all the fish tanks of the planet for its harmonious beauty, characterized by unusual colors in fish, such as whites, reds, blues that in a graceful body, harmonizes with a wide, undulating tail. Its background within his work would be in the series "Rhythms" where the tent is dug on the wood surface to turn the line in the groove, between diverse backgrounds that highlight this aesthetic resource. The rhythm is generated between the shoals transmits a climate of entropy, which differs from the koi that emanates a sense of inner peace. He introduces in them the resin to create various levels of depth that give each canvas a false depth, transforming the work into a visual trap.

Frank Hyder is emphatic when saying that his problem is not to imitate nature, but turning its forms into metaphors of a harmonious relationship between man and nature. These are canvases where the fish are in groups where the artist is creating the backgrounds, the waves that create visual tension with the shoals. He paints on each layer of resin, in order to create the sense of illusory depth that characterizes this series. By joining this innovative technique to fish-like form as the Koi, he creates a work that generates a new phase in his artistic language that unites the beauty to the aesthetic and metaphorical force.

This visual language is also used in the "Lotus" characterized by a lively chromatic, where unusual color of unusual contrasts are harmonized to create sets of waterscapes. The work acquires a strong symbolic resonance with the meaning of "Nelumbo nucifera" the sacred lotus or the rose of the Nile. The Latin term: nucifera refers to the lotus nuts, which are its edible fruits and can germinate after centuries, due to this feature they have become a symbol of eternity and lighting. It is a plant which roots grow toward the depth and from which it springs a flower on the water surface. Process that converts the lotus in symbol of mystical enlightenment, for this reason, in India it is also called the sacred lotus. In these works the artist resizes plants, makes them his, through his pictorial language, full of joy and grace as well as works inspired by the fish. In this way the artist Frank Hyder reveals in each of his series a deep sense of balance and an aesthetic full of spirituality.


Eduardo Planchart Licea
Caracas. 2011