Meet Artist Fausto Fernandez :: Art of a Thoughtful Person
Fausto Fernandez, mixed media collage artist in his mid-30s, has accomplished a great deal so far in his career. First and foremost a painter, his extraordinary talent can also be seen at the PHX Sky Train Station that opened April 8, 2013, where he designed the 440’ x 40’ terrazzo floor.
For Fernandez, the Sky Train project was quite an undertaking. Five years ago, when he was selected to create a proposal from a pool of local artists, he looked at hundreds of photos of airplanes, musing about what shapes might be interesting. He became inspired by the shape of an airplane’s horizontal stabilizer, known as a tailplane. These stabilizers are a small lifting surface located on the tail and serve three purposes: equilibrium, stability and control. He next had to turn his idea into a large-scale floor design, and for this he tapped his love of layered colors and mechanical shapes.
“As a painter, it was a challenge for me to imagine something as large as the train station floor, especially since it wasn’t yet built and this was my first permanent public art project,” said Fernandez. “It also took a while to realize that the viewer would not be able to see the entire floor as they would a painting, but rather about a 10-foot radius as they walked along it. It had to be an interesting design in its parts as well as its whole.”
“I wanted to keep it simple in design and decided on a repetitive composition of horizontal stabilizers from aircraft. I used 10 colors to create the platform’s rhythmic geometric patterns and sweeping bands,” said Fernandez.
The architecture and the windows framing the floor called for a design that would reflect the aesthetic of the barrel vault and its repetitive beams framing the structure. The outlines of the stabilizers in the design are repetitive shapes that keep a consistency and maintain symmetry as they flow into the terminal and create an illusion of linear perspective.
Built in terrazzo, the floor contains aggregates of glass and mirror that reflect light from the exterior windows. Fernandez spent a lot of time with the fabricators to create the colors. He heightened the floor’s reflective qualities by adding aggregates of recycled, crushed glass and mirror.
The floor consists of 10 colors, black being the only color with aggregates of mirror connecting the design in one organic linear shape from one end to the other. The black line interweaves between the shapes providing a variation with the symmetry.
Fernandez is quick to point out that working closely for five years with the project’s design and construction team of architects, engineers and fabricators was an experience of a lifetime and made this work possible. “I am happy with the floor,” said Fernandez, “and happy that they believed in me.”
Fernandez typically paints large scale pieces, six-feet-wide or more. He paints the familiar in extraordinary, interesting and unusual combinations, each with a particular idea in mind. A showcase of his latest works are on display at Mesa Contemporary Arts (MCA) where he is part of a group show titled “Arizona Catalyst: Artists Working In and Beyond the State” (May 10 - August 11). The show features four exceptionally talented artists whose artistic careers began in Arizona, and who have strong ties to the local art community and Arizona State University.
Fernandez lived and worked in Phoenix for 10 years prior to moving to Los Angeles in 2012.
Two of the pieces in the show were created in his LA studio as part of a series of five paintings that explore the relationship of mathematics to people’s everyday concerns.
Typically, his layered work, done by hand and not computer applications, depict technology by incorporating tools, machines and aviation renderings. He explores their relationship with nature and how these conceptually relate to human behavior. The paintings include a mixture of blueprints, maps, wallpaper, asphalt, spray paint, acrylic paint, laser jet transfers and dress patterns as backgrounds, with overlays of bold graphic designs figuring the foreground.
What is also striking about his work is the idea behind each piece and the thinking and meaning for each gesture, layer and line.
In the painting, “The Drake Equation” (72” x 48”) on display at MCA, the painting involves human space exploration and a mathematical idea behind it. Drake Equation was named for radio astronomer Frank Drake who became the first person to start a systematic search for intelligent signals from the cosmos. In 1961, he devised a probabilistic argument used to estimate the number of active, communicative extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy. The equation summarizes the main factors which scientists must contemplate when considering the question of other radio-communicative life.
“Attraction, Love, and Communication” (72” x 48”), incorporates an image of a rotary telephone symbolizing communication as well as a mathematical formula that allows you to solve the problem with “I<3 U” (I Love You). “The paintings are metaphors for how I see relationships,” said Fernandez.
“’Modern Advances Adapting to Nature’ (74” x 96”) is the centerpiece of the MCA show,” said Tiffany Fairall, associate curator. “While the subject matter is completely different, it is an homage to Pablo Picasso’s famous “Guernica,” and is a stunning piece.”
Fairall continued, “All four artists, Wesley Anderegg (California), Angel Cabrales (Texas), Angela Young (Wisconsin), and Fernandez have strong ties to the Phoenix area and their talent was cultivated here before moving on as their careers expanded. Their work was selected for the strength of the artist, and the quality and consistency of the art.”
Fernandez described how he develops his ideas: “The subjects in my work are based on the people around me, experiences I want to explore and interesting things I want to experience. My intentions are to include these concepts and ideas in my paintings by finding materials or imagery I think could relate, and then apply them in my paintings. My process is directly influenced by graphic design, before computers did most of the work. I find interest in exploring my relationships, friendships and family and how these relationships impact my personality.”
Fernandez’s newest series explores music and musicians. “Love is What You Make It Out to Be” (72” x 72”), available at Gebert Contemporary in Scottsdale, was inspired by singer and songwriter Aubrey Debauchery, who lives in Chico, California, who Fernandez met online. After the painting was finished, Fernandez was going to name it after one of her songs, but instead he asked Debauchery to title it. She not only did that, but wrote a soulful song inspired by the painting which can be heard on his blog. This painting was selected for inclusion in the Tucson Museum of Art’s “Arizona Biennial 2013.” This is the oldest-running juried exhibition featuring exclusively Arizona artists, and will be on view at the museum from July 20 through September 29.
Fernandez’s work is featured in permanent collections at the Phoenix Art Museum, the Tucson Art Museum, the Heard Museum and at the Gebert Contemporary Arts Gallery in Scottsdale. He was invited to have a solo show in April created to highlight an exceptional University of Texas in El Paso (UTEP) alumni artist, where he graduated in 2001. Fernandez received his BFA in painting and BFA in graphic design from UTEP.
“As Fernandez is influenced by his experiences in LA and the other artists there,” said Fairall, “it will be interesting to see how his work continues to evolve.” This very thoughtful artist will continue to have much to share.
PHX Sky Train Station
44th and Washington Streets, Phoenix
Mesa Contemporary Arts
One E. Main St., Mesa
7160 E. Main St., Scottsdale
Tucson Museum of Art
140 N. Main Ave., Tucson