Austin artist Hector Hernandez has had a busy summer.
In June, as part of the artist-curator collective Los Outsiders, Hernandez put together “Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow” an exhilarating group exhibit at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center.
Spinning off that, he’s put together “Identity Crisis” at Grayduck Gallery — a gathering of his own work along that of Carlos Donjuan and William Hundley.
“Identity Crisis” makes for a nice riff on “Heir Today.” Hernandez, along with Donjuan and Hundley have work in “Heir.” All three are pranksters, cleverly tugging at our expectations.
At first glance, Donjuan’s vibrantly colored paintings employ a kind of classical composition — portrait scenarios that roughly mimic Renaissance formality. But Donjuan likes to mash things up, specifically pulling from several centuries of painting style and pushing it into the 21st century by mixing it with a street art vibe. (The Dallas-based artist has done his fair share of street art and graffiti art.)
But Donjuan’s portrait figures (mostly young men and women) remain devoid of facial detail and are backgrounded by disparately stylistic objects and landscapes (abstract shapes, for example, or surrealistic nature elements). His surfaces maintain a kind of raw texture even where his brushwork is detailed. Cleverly, Donjuan’s hybrid portraits reveal a subversive sense of humor.
The humor and absurdity is a little more immediate with Hernandez and Hundley, whose individual works literally collide in a collaboration effort in this exhibit.
Hernandez taps his youthful fondness for cartoon superheroes and other pop-culture characters in his mixed-media photo-based works.
Starting with an image of a comely young woman, Hernandez superimposes a goofy cartoonish mask over the woman’s face. Odd props are included — a menacing ax, for example, crafted with cheerfully rainbow-hued handle. (Just for grins, the ax itself is displayed in the exhibit.)
In his color photographs Hundley, too, employs a female model adorning her with a series of crazy feather masks.
And like Donjuan, Hernandez and Hundley love the hybrid result of pulling from different moods and sensibilities to create portraits that play an artistic game of hide-and-seek.
And like posters along a street wall, black-and-white photo transfers of Hernandez’s and Hundley’s odd portraits cover one of the gallery walls.
It’s just more mashing up. Identity is, after all, what you make it up to be.